Orlando Conspiracy Lawyer
Prosecutors love uncovering an alleged criminal conspiracy. When conspiracy charges are added to a criminal case, defendants can be punished even more severely for the same underlying conduct, they can be held liable for the acts and statements of their co-conspirators, and they can find themselves subject to a whole range of additional criminal charges. Conspiracies can be large and wide-ranging, or they can be as small as an agreement between two people.
If you have been arrested or charged with a criminal conspiracy, it’s vital that you get an experienced central Florida conspiracy defense lawyer on your side as soon as possible. There are important decisions to be made about how best to present your defense that can affect your entire case, and the sooner you develop a considered plan of action, the better. The seasoned Orlando criminal conspiracy defense lawyers at the Joshi Law Firm, PA will help you build the strongest defense to protect your rights and your freedom.
What is a Criminal Conspiracy?
A criminal conspiracy is, at its base, simply an agreement between at least two people to commit a crime. Florida Statutes Section 777.04(3) explains that a “person who agrees, conspires, combines, or confederates with another person or persons to commit any offense commits the offense of criminal conspiracy.” Conspiracies can take the form of a large-scale organization engaging in regular criminal conduct, such as an ongoing drug smuggling operation, or they can simply involve two people agreeing to commit a single crime.
Florida law punishes criminal conspiracy as a separate offense from the underlying crime on which the co-conspirators agreed. The key aspect of conspiracy is “agreement.” There is no such thing as a conspiracy of one. Moreover, if only one party to the alleged conspiracy actually agreed to commit a crime, then there is no conspiracy for either party. A savvy Florida conspiracy defense attorney can expose weaknesses in the prosecution’s case by pointing out the lack of an actual agreement between the parties to commit a crime.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony Conspiracy Charges
Under Florida law, conspiracy is a separate crime from the underlying criminal act. Conspiracy can be charged separately and in addition to the underlying criminal conduct; the agreement itself is considered a separate crime. Moreover, the agreement to commit the crime is sufficient for conspiracy charges, even if the crime is never actually committed.
The severity of the conspiracy charge depends, in turn, on the seriousness of the alleged underlying conduct. Conspiracy charges can range from a misdemeanor to a first-degree felony. A conspiracy to commit a minor crime may be charged as a misdemeanor, while a conspiracy to commit a serious crime such as murder will be charged as a felony. Typically, in Florida, the crime of conspiracy will be charged as one offense-level lower than the crime the defendants allegedly agreed to commit. So, if the conspiracy involved a third-degree felony, then the defendants could be charged with first-degree misdemeanor conspiracy; if the conspiracy involved a first-degree felony, then the defendants would be charged with second-degree felony conspiracy. In that way, conspiracy can significantly add to the penalties of a criminal conviction.
The Scope and Limitations of a Conspiracy
Under Florida law, a conspiracy continues to exist until it is either completed, terminated, or otherwise abandoned through an affirmative act. Even if multiple crimes are committed as part of the conspiracy, if there is one general plan, then there should be only one charge of conspiracy. The conspiracy will continue, however, until the crime is committed or the conspiracy is abandoned. A single defendant can get out of the conspiracy by voluntarily abandoning the conspiracy. The complexities and nuances of conspiracy under federal and state law underline how important it is to have an experienced, detail-oriented, and effective Florida criminal defense attorney on your team.
Charged With a Co-Conspirator’s Crimes
One of the most unreasonable aspects of conspiracy law, beloved by prosecutors, is that co-conspirators can be charged with one another’s crimes committed in furtherance of the conspiracy. Even if defendant A had no knowledge of defendant B’s extra crime and had no intention to help defendant B with that extra crime, so long as it was connected to the conspiracy, then defendant A can also be charged.
For example, if defendant A and defendant B agree to rob a bank, with defendant A sitting outside in the getaway car, and defendant B goes off the plan and murders a security guard, defendant A can also be charged with murder. Even more remote examples can be found under federal and state law.
The example demonstrates how important it is to retain an experienced and effective conspiracy defense attorney in order to avoid the most severe and outlandish consequences for alleged participation in a criminal conspiracy.
Get Help from a Seasoned Central Florida Conspiracy Defense Lawyer
The experienced Orlando conspiracy defense legal team at the Joshi Law Firm, PA is ready to fight for you, your family, and your rights. Please contact our office for further inquiry or if you would like to set up a consultation. Call today at 407-661-1109 to start building your case.