What Evidence Does the Government Need for Conspiracy Charges?

Federal conspiracy crimes are serious offenses that can carry significant penalties, including imprisonment, fines, and probation. But even if you never expected to be caught up in criminal activity, understanding how the government investigates potential conspiracies can change how you interact with acquaintances, associates, and even other businesses. It goes without saying, but if you’re under investigation for federal conspiracy charges, you need to work with an attorney who can help you understand your rights and build an aggressive defense.

What Federal Conspiracy?

A federal conspiracy is an agreement between two or more people “to commit any offense against the United States” and/or “defraud the United States.” This can include crimes like drug smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering, and more.  The crime of “conspiracy” does not require that the actual crime be committed, only that the agreement to commit the crime exists and that the defendant knew of and voluntarily consented to participate in the agreement

For example, two people could be charged with conspiracy to commit fraud if they agree to defraud the government by submitting false claims for reimbursement. Even if the two people never submit any false claims, they could still be charged with conspiracy.

How Do Federal Conspiracy Charges Happen?

Federal conspiracy charges can happen in a variety of ways. One common way is for law enforcement to conduct an undercover investigation. During the investigation, law enforcement agents will pose as criminals and try to get the target of the investigation to agree to commit a crime.

Another way that federal conspiracy charges can happen is when law enforcement makes an arrest for a related crime, and finds additional evidence that indicates there was a conspiracy. This may happen if someone is arrested for possession of illegal drugs and, after searching the defendant’s phone, they find messages showing intent to sell or smuggle drugs. 

Once law enforcement has gathered enough evidence, they can arrest the target of the investigation and charge them with conspiracy. They may not need physical evidence that illegal activity took place, but the “intent” is still present–hence the “conspiracy.”

Potential Consequences of Conviction

Like most federal crimes, the consequences of a conspiracy conviction can be severe. The penalties for a federal conspiracy conviction vary depending on the underlying crime that was being conspired to commit. However, in general, a federal conspiracy conviction can result in imprisonment, fines, and probation.

For example, a conviction for conspiracy to commit fraud can result in five years in prison and a massive fine of $250,000 or more. A conviction for conspiracy to commit drug trafficking can result in 20 years or more in prison and staggering fines.

Improving Outcomes

If you are facing a federal conspiracy charge, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands federal courts as soon as possible. Whether you know you’re under investigation or not, never speak to law enforcement without your attorney being present. Invoke your right to remain silent!

Whatever circumstances leading up to the investigation or criminal charges, partnering with an attorney you trust will be necessary to build a strong defense. Even if you feel like the odds are stacked against you, The Law Offices of Charles A. Banker, III are on your side. For a free consultation, call our Houston office at (713) 227-4100 or McAllen office at (956) 687-9133.

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The Law Offices of Charles A. Banker, III

Our firm’s founder, Charles A. Banker III, has been a solo criminal defense practitioner with offices in Houston and McAllen, TX for over 30 years. He understands what it means to work independently in today’s hyperconnected world, but he also knows that sometimes you need to lean on others.

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