DC Conspiracy Lawyer
A criminal conspiracy in Washington, DC is defined as an agreement between two or more persons to accomplish an unlawful act together, or to achieve by criminal or unlawful means an act not in itself criminal or unlawful. A Washington, DC conspiracy attorney can help you navigate the complexities of the DC legal system. Here are the basics you must know if you have been charged with conspiracy in the District of Columbia.
Elements of Conspiracy in DC
In order for there to be a conspiracy in Washington, DC, an act must be shown to have occurred at the hand of at least one of the conspirators and the act must be performed in order to further the purpose of the conspiracy. In Washington, DC, it is necessary to show that the parties intended to make an agreement to commit a criminal act and that the parties had knowledge of the conspiracy and of what the conspiracy intended to do. The most commonly invoked statute by the government is known as the general conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C. Section 371, which can be applied to a myriad of different underlying offenses. In Washington, DC, conspiracy carries a potential sentence of up to five years in prison.
A conspiracy to commit a crime is an offense separate and distinct from the crime that is the object of the conspiracy, and therefore carries a separate sentence. Thus, in Washington, DC, a criminal conspiracy is punishable both when it fails and where the intended crime is accomplished. Conspiracy is frequently charged in connection with white collar offenses, which can be read about here.
How Is Conspiracy Proved in DC?
The agreement to accomplish the criminal act may be inferred from the surrounding circumstances, including declarations and/or statements, acts, and the conduct of the alleged conspirators. The agreement does not need to be entered into by all the parties at the same time, but it can be reached by future actions showing the joining of the conspiracy. A conspiracy exists from the time of forming the criminal agreement until it terminates by abandonment, frustration, or the achievement of the conspiracy’s objective. Establishing the intent necessary for a conspiracy in Washington, DC requires showing not only that the conspirators intended to agree, but also that they intended to commit elements of the underlying offense. For liability as a co-conspirator, a person must have knowledge of the existence of the conspiracy and knowledge of the illegal object of the conspiracy. Mere knowledge of the existence of the conspiracy, without a showing of some degree of knowing involvement and cooperation in the conspiracy agreement, does not give rise to liability as a co-conspirator.
For a greater explanation of conspiracy laws in Washington, DC, you can read the District of Columbia Official Code. Please contact us for more information or to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.