Criminal conspiracy involves an agreement between two or more people to commit an illegal act. The agreement may be direct or implied and does not necessarily have to be written down. The main aspect of criminal conspiracy is a unity of purpose by the parties involved to break the law rather than the actual commission of the crime.
Under Texas law, conspiracy is charged as a separate offense from the underlying crime that was planned. As such, you can still be charged with conspiracy if you were not present at the scene or even if the crime did not take place.
The elements of criminal conspiracy
Conspiracy is more than having prior knowledge or information about a crime before it happens. Generally speaking, there are three key elements that must be present for a conspiracy to exist. They include:
- An agreement: The first element of a criminal conspiracy is an agreement between two or more individuals to commit a crime. You must have knowingly and voluntarily agreed with another to break the law.
- Intent: The individuals involved in the conspiracy must have the intention to commit the crime. A conspirator knows what they are doing is unlawful but still intends to do it to achieve the goal agreed upon under the conspiracy.
- An overt act: Finally, at least one of the individuals involved in the conspiracy must take some action that moves them closer to committing the crime. For instance, if two individuals conspire to commit a robbery, an overt act could be something as simple as renting a getaway car, scouting out the location of the robbery or buying ski masks.
Depending on the underlying offense, you may be facing misdemeanor or felony conspiracy charges.
Protect your legal rights
A criminal conspiracy charge is not to be taken lightly. You risk punitive legal penalties such as lengthy jail terms and hefty fines if you are convicted of a criminal conspiracy charge. Therefore, it helps to have experienced legal representation in your defense to help protect your interests.