Very often when discussing crime, we focus on the result. For instance, we highlight that someone killed another person (murder) or set fire to a building (arson). But, it is common for many crimes to involve more than one person and be planned in advance. When this happens, it introduces many other crimes known as preparatory offenses. One such preparatory offense is conspiracy, and both the Texas and federal government treat it very seriously.
What Does it Mean to Conspire?
Generally, conspiracy can be thought of as when two or more people agree to commit an illegal act, coupled with an action that furthers completion of the illegal act. It is important to note that the action does not need to be the intended crime itself. Additionally, a person can be convicted of both conspiracy to commit a crime and the crime that is committed.
Texas Conspiracy Statute
Under Texas law, criminal conspiracy is committed if, with the intent to commit a felony:
- a person agrees with one or more other people to engage in conduct that would constitute the offense; and
- one or more of them performs an overt act in pursuance of the agreement.
The penalty for conspiracy is one category lower than the most serious felony that is the object of the conspiracy. In other words, if the most serious felony was a first degree felony, the conspiracy to commit that felony would be a second degree felony. In a case where the most serious felony is a state jail felony, the offense is a class A misdemeanor.
Conspiracy is one of the numerous white-collar crimes that the federal government investigates and prosecutes. As a result of the nature of conspiracy, it is often committed by members of organized crime. Consequently, the federal government considers conspiracy a very serious crime with significant potential punishment.
There are dozens of federal statutes prohibiting conspiracy, including the very broad 18 U.S.C. 371, which makes it illegal to conspire to commit any federal crime. The potential punishment includes a fine and up to five years in prison.
Another federal statute makes it a crime to conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate another person in the free exercise of a Constitutional right or privilege. The punishment for committing conspiracy against rights is a fine and/or imprisonment of up to ten years. Additionally, it is possible to be sentenced to life in prison or even death if the conspiracy involved the death of another person, or if it involved kidnapping or attempt to kidnap or aggravated sexual abuse or attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse.
It is important to remember that these are only two of the many federal laws related to conspiracy.
Houston Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys
Conspiracy is a complicated area of the law. Further, it is quite possible that, in addition to state charges, the federal government may be involved. This only heightens the need to obtain experienced counsel. At the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates, we have represented individuals through both state and federal criminal defense cases. Please contact us today if you have any questions.