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Making sense of the federal criminal conspiracy charges that you’re facing

The U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecutes any number of criminal offenses, including drug, violent and white-collar crimes. The federal government generally invests significant resources in investigating potential violations of federal law. The U.S. Attorney’s Office then generally impanels a grand jury to assess evidence and witness statements before deciding whether to move forward in filing charges. 

It’s not uncommon for a U.S. Attorney who decides to press charges against a defendant to levy conspiracy charges against them in addition to other offense-specific ones. Gaining a better understanding of what the federal government describes as “a conspiracy” may help you strategize your defense.

How does the federal government describe conspiracy?

Title 18 United States Code (USC) § 371 is the federal statute that the U.S. Attorney’s Office refers to when deciding whether to file conspiracy charges against a defendant. This statute describes any instance in which two or more people come together and violate federal law as a conspiracy. This federal statute allows prosecutors to charge a defendant with conspiracy no matter if they joined a plan or devised it. 

How do prosecutors prove a conspiracy case?

The burden falls on the prosecution’s shoulders to prove that a crime occurred. They must present proof that a defendant worked with another person to commit fraud or otherwise violate U.S. law. They must also show that the defendant committed an overt criminal act after reaching an agreement with others. 

What sentences does the federal government impose for conspiracy?

Federal judges and prosecutors have sentencing guidelines that they must follow when requesting or doling out sentences. These guidelines allow defendants convicted of conspiracy charges to receive as much as a $250,000 fine and a 5-year sentence for each conspiracy charge violation. 

Why you need to fight conspiracy charges aggressively

A good defense strategy starts early. Federal prosecutors will paint a story at trial in your case, but they are only going to tell their side of events. You need to have a viable argument to rival the prosecution’s allegations. An attorney can help you learn more.