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Criminal charges


A criminal conspiracy is generally a partnership formed to commit a crime or crimes. A criminal conspiracy exists when two or more persons form an agreement to violate a law that includes criminal penalties, and then take one or more steps designed to accomplish the goal of the conspiracy.

Federal and state statutes make criminal conspiracies illegal for two primary purposes: (1) to help combat the powerful forces created when two or more people collaborate to commit a crime; and (2) to allow criminal prosecutors (state and federal) to prosecute persons who play a role in planning a crime but who are not involved in the physical acts taken to complete the underlying crime.

For example, under federal law, if two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency of the United States in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to accomplish the objective of the conspiracy, each of the conspirators may be fined under and imprisoned for up to five years. See 18 U.S.C. §371. And most states have statutes (usually located in the penal or criminal code) that make criminal conspiracies a crime and include significant punishment upon conviction.

In Texas, criminal conspiracy is defined under the Texas Penal Code Section 15.02. A person commits conspiracy if, with the intent that a felony be committed, they agree with one or more persons that they or one or more of them engage in conduct that would constitute the offense and one of the conspirators performs an overt act in pursuance of the agreement. An individual can be charged with conspiracy even if the actual crime was not completed, as long as it is proven that there was an agreement and an overt act to further the crime. The punishment for conspiracy in Texas is generally one category lower than the most serious felony that is the object of the conspiracy, except that conspiracy to commit a Class A misdemeanor is a state jail felony. This aligns with the dual purposes of conspiracy laws: to dismantle the collaborative efforts to commit crimes and to allow for the prosecution of individuals involved in the planning stages of criminal activities. At the federal level, under 18 U.S.C. § 371, individuals involved in a conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States or to defraud the United States can face fines and imprisonment for up to five years. Both state and federal laws reflect a commitment to penalize the collaborative planning of criminal acts, not just the execution of such acts.

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