Conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to do something unlawful. To prove the crime of conspiracy, the state must establish three elements:
(1) an agreement to commit an unlawful act existed;
(2) the defendant had knowledge of the agreement and voluntary participated in it; and
(3) an overt act was performed by at least one of the co-conspirators in furtherance of the conspiracy.
Conspiracy requires an agreement between two or more persons to do something unlawful. The partners in the criminal plan must agree to pursue the same criminal objective. The State does not need to prove the specific details of a plan, only that the conspirators agreed to the plan's essential nature. The scope of a conspiracy is determined by the scope of the agreement, and if there is no agreement, there is no conspiracy.
The intent element required for a conspiracy conviction is that the defendant intended to join in the conspiracy and intended the plan to be accomplished. Nothing more is required to prove intent.
In order to a prove conspiracy, the state must prove that the person charged with conspiracy knew of the existence of the scheme alleged in the indictment and knowingly joined and participated in it. The defendant must be proven to have some knowledge of the conspiracy's objectives; however, there is no requirement that an accused know every objective of the conspiracy.
An overt act is any statement or act that is knowingly done by one or more of the conspirators in an effort to accomplish a purpose of the conspiracy; it need not be in violation of the law or be a crime itself. Additionally, the other conspirators need not join or participate in it or even know about it. Proof of a single overt act is sufficient, and each member need not perform an overt act.
An act committed after the conspiracy is over, is not an “overt act” because it is not in furtherance of the conspiracy.
Defending A Charge Of Conspiracy
Conspiracy is one of the easiest charges for the state to prove and one of the hardest to defend against. This is because no actual crime has to be committed. For instance, lets say 4 friends agree "someday we are going to rob a bank." There is no other real plan or timeline but each of the 4 agree. If one of the 4 friends buys ski masks to execute this plan, this is an overt act. Buys ski masks is not illegal and no one has actually robbed or attempted to rob a bank, but all 4 friends can now be arrested and convicted of conspiracy to commit robbery. This is why a charge of conspiracy is often very difficult to defend against.
If you are charged with conspiracy the first thing you should do is consult with a criminal defense attorney. These are very serious and complex charges - your future and your freedom are on the line. Don't wait even a moment.