08 Apr What is Conspiracy in Arizona?
What is conspiracy? Recent news in our country has covered the subject of conspiracy ad nauseam. Collusion or no collusion? But you may still be scratching your head, wondering what exactly criminal conspiracy is and what is needed in order to prove a conspiracy charge. Your Arizona criminal defense attorney, Todd Coolidge, is here to answer these questions.
What is Conspiracy?
Pursuant to ARS 13-1003, a conspiracy occurs when two or more people agree to commit an illegal act and engage in conduct that is in furtherance of the offense.
In order for criminal conspiracy charges to be made, there only needs to be proof that steps were taken to commit a specific crime, even if the crime was never perpetrated. Additionally, steps taken to commit a crime do not have to be illegal in and of themselves: they just have to indicate that those conspiring together had the intention of breaking the law.
How do You Prove Criminal Conspiracy?
As you can imagine, conspiracy to break the law is a difficult crime to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt. However, a few factors come into play when trying to establish conspiracy.
The “Agreement” Requirement
This is one of the more difficult aspects of proving that two people entered into criminal conspiracy. Namely, because the courts have failed to define what “agreement” means.
Traditionally an agreement involves a commitment, an obligation or a promise. A contract would certainly be an agreement (and a prosecutor’s dream evidence).
However, more nuanced definitions of agreement can pertain to harmony of opinion or simple willingness to take part in a crime.
The Element of “Intent”
With very few exceptions, most crimes in Arizona must prove that a person acted with a certain level of knowledge or intent. In criminal conspiracy, co-conspirators would have a specific intent to commit the objective of the conspiracy. Mere association or ignorant involvement in a crime does not equal intent.
The “Overt Act” Requirement
Finally, an overt act is required to catch co-conspirators in the process of conspiring to break the law. For example, if more than one person caught conspiring to transport meth, all that would be needed is for one person to rent a van, which would be considered a concrete step in carrying out of the plan.
What is the Punishment for Criminal Conspiracy in Arizona?
Punishment for criminal conspiracy is fairly straightforward. If caught conspiring to commit a crime, even if the crime was not perpetrated, a person will face a punishment that is equal to the level of crime that was committed.
Continuing with the previous example, if you are caught conspiring to transport meth in the United States, you’ll face a class 2 felony charge, because the actual crime of transporting meth in the US is a class 2 felony.
Defenses for Conspiracy in Arizona
If you are charged with conspiracy to commit a crime in Arizona, it’s crucial to hire a Certified Criminal Law Specialist as soon as possible. Some defenses for criminal conspiracy in Arizona include abandonment or withdrawal from the agreement, or entrapment.
Schedule your free case consultation with Todd Coolidge today.