New York Federal Conspiracy Lawyer
In its most basic terms, conspiracy is the crime of agreeing with another person to commit an illegal act. In federal courts, conspiracy is typically charged in one of two ways: 1) a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, which generally prohibits conspiracies to commit an offense against the United States; or 2) with a conspiracy statute that punishes specifically proscribed conduct, such as conspiracy to distribute narcotics, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. These crimes are treated extremely seriously – a conviction for the former is punishable by up to five years imprisonment – and the latter, life imprisonment under certain circumstances.
Worse, the crime of conspiracy is considered “separate and apart from the substantive offense that is the object of the conspiracy,” United States v. Ali, 561 F. Supp.2d 265, 267 (E.D.N.Y. 2008) citing United States v. Feola, 420 U.S. 671, 694 (1975) and therefore, an individual may be charged with both the conspiracy to commit a crime and the underlying crime itself. This is because the agreement to commit a crime is the prohibited conduct for a conspiracy – not its underlying aim. Feola, 420 U.S. at 694. A New York federal conspiracy lawyer could explain your legal options if you are facing these charges. Our team at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman understands how to handle these cases and could use our legal experience to develop a defense strategy.
What are Conspiracy Charges?
According to 18 U.S.C. § 371, whoever conspires with another person to commit an offense against – or to defraud – a governmental agency, and thereafter commits an overt act in furtherance thereof, may be imprisoned by up to five years and fined up to $250,000. There are three essential elements to this crime:
- An agreement among two or more persons, the object of which is an offense against the United States;
- The defendant’s intentional joinder in that conspiracy;
- Commission of an act in furtherance of the conspiracy by at least one of the conspirators. United States v. Svoboda, 347 F.3d 471, 476 (2d Cir. 2003).
Our New York federal defense attorneys could identify whether an individual conspiracy case meets all of these requirements. This statute has been interpreted broadly by federal courts – and the requirement that the object of the conspiracy must be to commit a crime against the United States may be satisfied by a showing that the aim was merely to violate some federal law. See United States v. Giordano, 693 F.2d 245, 249 (2d Cir. 1982) (“Jurisdiction is established by proof that the accused planned to commit a substantive offense which, if attainable, would have violated a federal statute”). “The key to a valid conspiracy charge” pursuant to § 371 is therefore “whether facts exist tying the proscribed conduct to the area of federal concern delineated by … statute.” Id.
Other Related Conspiracy Offenses
In addition to 18 U.S.C. § 371 and its “broad” reach (id.) are the myriad federal statutes that prohibit specific conspiracies – and typically punish them more severely than §371. For example, 21 U.S.C. § 846 prohibits conspiracies to distribute narcotics and punishes this conduct with “the same penalties as those prescribed for the [substantive] offense.” 21 U.S.C. § 846. This may include life imprisonment under certain circumstances. 21 U.S.C. § 841(b). Similarly, the Hobbs Act punishes those who conspire to commit interstate robberies or extortionate acts. Those who conspire to violate 18 U.S.C. §1951 are punished the same as those who actually commit the robbery or extortion – by up to 20 years imprisonment.
Additionally, 18 U.S.C. § 286 proscribes conspiracies to defraud the United States of money or property through the submission of false claims – and punishes those convicted of this crime with up to ten years imprisonment. Importantly, unlike a conspiracy charged pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §371, there is no requirement that the government prove that the defendant committed an overt act in furtherance of any of the aforementioned conspiracies, making them easier for prosecutors to prove at trial. See, e.g., United States v. Shabani, 513 U.S. 10, 15 (1994); United States v. Celemente, 22 F.3d 477, 481 (2d Cir. 1994).
Contact a New York Federal Conspiracy Attorney
These charges often come with many complexities and difficulties that an individual may not be able to handle without an attorney. Our New York federal conspiracy lawyers are ready to help. Our team could offer legal support and guidance while diligently fighting the accusations against you. Call today for more information.