NYC Conspiracy Crime Lawyer
Conspiracy crime is one of the most common criminal charges. Prosecutors often tack conspiracy onto another criminal charge such as an NYC drug crime or NYC fraud charge. While a conspiracy charge is very common, it is also frequently misunderstood. As a result, if you have been charged with conspiracy, it’s crucial that you speak with an NYC conspiracy crime lawyer to discuss your options.
What’s the Definition of Conspiracy?
An experienced NYC conspiracy crime lawyer will advise that in order to prove conspiracy charges in NY, prosecutors generally must prove three elements. First, a prosecutor will have to show that there is an agreement between two or more people to commit an unlawful act. Second, the participants must be knowing participants in the conspiracy. Third, the participants in the conspiracy must take some action toward the completion of the conspiracy crime.
Those charged with conspiracy should know that they could face convictions for both the conspiracy as well as the underlying criminal act that they were pursuing. The following is a closer look at the three elements of a conspiracy charge:
Agreement Between Two Or More Persons
The key to a conspiracy charge is that it is a form of criminal partnership between two or more people to commit an unlawful act. A Brooklyn conspiracy crime Lawyer can explain to you that with a conspiracy, it is the agreement to commit an illegal act that is itself illegal. Whether the underlying crime was ever committed is irrelevant. For example, if there is a conspiracy to commit bank fraud between John and Henry and they take an overt act toward the commission of the crime, they may be guilty of the crime of conspiracy to commit bank fraud regardless of whether they actually succeed.
Knowledge and Intent
As with most criminal charges, prosecutors must prove that the participants in the conspiracy had the knowledge and intent to enter into the criminal act. A prosecutor will not have to show that you had the intent to injure a specific person. However, the prosecutor will have to show that you had the general intent to engage in a criminal act. For example, if you join a group that is considering robbing a bank in Manhattan, you must have reasonable knowledge that the group is planning to rob the bank.
A key element of a conspiracy charge that is usually overlooked is that the participants must take some overt act toward the commission of the crime. So a group of people simply thinking about a crime may not be enough to support a conviction. Instead, prosecutors must also show that at least one of the conspirators took an overt act in furtherance of the crime. For example, if a group of would-be bank robbers simply sit around someone’s kitchen table discussing the bank robbery, they likely are not guilty of a crime. However, if the group scopes out the crime scene and draws a map of the bank, the scoping out and drawing out of the plan may constitute an overt act toward the commission of the crime supporting conviction.
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Types of Conspiracy Charges in New York
New York state law has six degrees of conspiracy charges that it officially recognizes. Like many other crimes, the first-degree conspiracy charge is the most severe while the sixth-degree conspiracy charge is labeled as a misdemeanor. The severity of conspiracy charges in NY depends on who was involved and the type of conspiracy crime that was committed. A New York City conspiracy lawyer will review your specific case and advise you on the best approach and outcome.
Conspiracy in the first degree applies to defendants who are 18 or older and conspire with one or more minors under the age of 16 to commit a Class A felony. Given the severity of a first-degree conspiracy crime in NY, it can result in a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole if convicted, according to New York Penal Law §105.17.
Conspiracy in the second degree applies when two or more people age 18 or older conspire to commit a Class A felony. Second-degree conspiracy charges in NY can result in a sentence up to 25 years in prison, according to New York Penal Law §105.15
Conspiracy in the third degree applies to defendants who are at least 18 and conspire with one or more people under the age of 16 to commit a Class B or Class C felony. If convicted of third-degree conspiracy charges in NY, a sentence up to seven years in prison is likely, according to New York Penal Law §105.13.
Conspiracy in the fourth degree is the felony of money laundering when he or she agrees with one or more people to engage in said felony. Fourth-degree conspiracy charges in NY can lead to a sentence of up to 4 years if convicted, according to New York Penal Law §105.10.
Conspiracy in the fifth degree applies in a conspiracy to commit any felony that doesn’t incorporate any of the more severe charges mentioned above and no one under the age of 18 is involved in the conspiracy crime, or against someone over 18 conspiring with minors under the age of 16 to commit a misdemeanor. Fifth-degree conspiracy charges in NY can warrant up to one year in prison, according to New York Penal Law §105.05.
Conspiracy in the sixth degree is warranted when there is a conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor where all conspirators are over the age of 18. Sixth-degree conspiracy charges in NY can result in a shorter sentence usually between 15 days and up to one year in prison in certain cases, according to New York Penal Law §105.00.
Defenses to Conspiracy Charges in NY
A conspiracy charge involves a lot of moving parts. It can be difficult to prove that two or more people shared the same intent and knowledge to commit a crime. It can also be difficult to show that an agreement existed, according to New York criminal defense lawyer, Frederick Sosinsky. Some common defenses to conspiracy crime charges in NY include:
Lack of Agreement
Prosecutors do not have to show that the parties had a formal written agreement to commit a crime. However, they do need to show that an agreement existed. Your Brooklyn conspiracy crime lawyer may help you argue that while you had met several people to discuss a common topic, there was never a plan to commit a crime or an agreement on how the crime would be committed.
Abandonment or Withdrawal
Even if there is an agreement to commit a crime, one of the parties to the conspiracy may still abandon the crime or withdraw from the act to avoid criminal prosecution. Generally, the defendant must abandon the crime or withdraw before the conspirators take an overt act toward the commission of the crime. Once the overt act is taken, it may be too late to withdraw. However, before that overt act is taken, a defendant can demonstrate abandonment or withdrawal such as by communicating the abandonment to other co-conspirators and taking the abandoning act in a timely fashion before the commission of the crime. The burden will be on the defendant to prove withdrawal or abandonment. You should be aware that a passive non-participation from the crime may not be enough to support abandonment.
Penalties of Conspiracy Charges in New York City
The penalties for a conspiracy charge vary wildly and can be very severe. The reason for the variation in penalties is that someone convicted of conspiracy faces the same punishment as the underlying crime. If there is a conspiracy to commit bank fraud, you face the penalties for the bank fraud. Similarly, if the underlying crime is murder, you could still face the penalties for murder. An experienced New York City conspiracy crime lawyer advises that expert counsel is necessary in order to help minimize the conspiracy charges.
An experienced New York City Conspiracy Lawyer will tell you that all members of the conspiracy face the same criminal penalties. If there is a conspiracy to commit murder, the conspirer who plans the crime can face the same penalties as the person who actually pulls the trigger. The reasoning behind this is that prosecutors will not bear the burden of trying to untangle the conspiracy and lay blame based on the roles of each conspirator. If you’ve been involved in a conspiracy crime charge in Brooklyn or Manhattan, understand that all involved are liable for the same level of punishment.
Consult With An NYC Conspiracy Crime Lawyer
If you have been charged with a conspiracy crime in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Bronx, or Queens, NY, you will want to work with an experienced New York City conspiracy crime attorney to achieve the best outcome of your case. Discuss the specifics of your case and learn your options by calling NYC criminal defense lawyer Frederick L. Sosinsky at (212) 285-2270.