Philadelphia Criminal Law News

How to Prove Criminal Conspiracy in Pennsylvania

A Pennsylvania conspiracy charge is one of the most common, yet least understood, criminal charges.

Generally, conspiracy is defined as one person planning with at least one other person to commit a crime. If someone is convicted of conspiracy, that person faces the same criminal penalties as the underlying crime.

For a conspiracy to be illegal, prosecutors have to prove that at least one person in the alleged conspiracy took some overt act to commit the crime.

Generally, an overt act must be something more than the actual planning of the crime. It must be some concrete action to carry out the plan. For example, if three people conspire to rob a bank, they may not have violated the law at the planning phase. However, when one of the conspirators purchases a getaway car or stakes out the bank, that may be considered an overt act to carry out the bank robbery.

Defenses to Conspiracy

It can be very difficult to prove conspiracy, as the line between fantasy of committing a crime and actually engaging in some act to commit the crime can be very thin.

Some common defenses to conspiracy can include:

  • No intent to commit the crime. If the alleged conspirators never had the intent to commit the underlying crime, they may argue that there was never any real criminal plan.

  • Renunciation. Even if a defendant takes some overt act to further the crime, a conspirator may later take some action to renounce the conspiracy, such as by thwarting the plan or otherwise making known that he wants nothing to do with the plot.

  • Abandonment. If enough time passes between the planning phase and actually taking some action toward committing the crime, the conspiracy may be considered abandoned.

Criminal conspiracy is a very serious charge. You may want the assistance of a criminal defense attorney if you have been charged with the crime.

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