PC 182: Conspiracy
Legal Definition: “Two or more persons who conspire…to commit any crime…they shall be punishable in the same manner and to the same extent as is provided for the punishment of that felony..…”
To secure a conviction under PC 182, it is imperative that the prosecution demonstrates the following elements:
- Intent and Agreement: The accused willingly and knowingly entered into an agreement with one or more individuals to commit a crime.
- Co-Conspirators’ Intent: At the time of the agreement, the other participants shared an intention for one or more of them to carry out the intended crime.
- Alleged Overt Acts: A conspiring party allegedly performed specific overt acts aimed at accomplishing the planned crime.
- Presence in California: Significantly, it is crucial that at least one of the overt acts occurred within the jurisdiction of California.
It is essential to rely on the expertise, experience, and authority of legal professionals when addressing the complex issues surrounding violations of PC 182.
What does this mean?
An overt act in a conspiracy refers to the actions taken by members of the group to further the agreed-upon criminal activity. These acts must occur after the defendant has agreed to participate in the crime. While the overt act should go beyond mere agreement or planning, it does not necessarily have to be a criminal act itself. For a conspiracy charge, it is essential to establish that each person involved made at least one overt act. However, a jury does not need to determine the specific acts committed or the individuals responsible for them.
An example of an overt act could include the legal purchase of a firearm with a valid license, even though the act of buying a gun alone is not a crime. However, if the purpose of the purchase is linked to a plan to commit murder, even if the person does not directly aid in the murder, they can still face conspiracy charges if they possess knowledge of the criminal intent behind the acquisition.
It’s important to note that being part of a conspiracy does not require personal knowledge of other participants or their roles within the conspiracy. Merely accompanying the conspirators does not automatically implicate someone in the conspiracy unless it can be proven that they had the intention to commit the crimes associated with the conspiracy. Additionally, an individual can still be held liable for conspiracy even if other members of the conspiracy perish during the course of the intended crime. In essence, the agreement and overt acts are sufficient for the charges of conspiracy, even if not all members of the conspiracy survive.
If a substantive crime requires the cooperation of two or more individuals, and there is no element of the alleged conspiracy that is not present in the substantive crime, it is not appropriate to charge the individuals with both the substantive crime and conspiracy. In such cases, the primary crime takes precedence, and individuals can only be charged with that specific offense. This principle is commonly referred to as Wharton’s Rule.
It’s essential to understand that a written or formal contract is not necessary for a conspiracy to exist. The agreement can be inferred from the conduct of the involved parties, even if it is not explicitly expressed or agreed upon.
A person who is charged under PC 182, would face the same penalty as that of the underlying offense. For example, if a person is charged under PC 211, they face a maximum punishment of up to 9 years in a State Prison. If you are charged with conspiracy to commit that robbery, then you could also face a maximum sentence of up to 9 years in State Prison. You can commit conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor or as a felony offense, so your maximum exposure is based on what crime you had conspired to commit.
This can be a strike offense under California’s Three Strikes Law if the underlying crime conspired to is also a strike offense. It is also not a Sex Offense requiring Sex Registration under PC 290 unless the conspired crime is a Sex offense under PC 290. This crime would likely negatively affect people with Professional Licenses or people in Immigration proceedings.
There are numerous defenses to a Conspiracy charge that would first start by attacking the elements. As indicated above, if there is no agreement by the parties, then there is no Conspiracy. A person robbing a 711 maybe, at random, assisted in their robbery by another customer, in helping them escape capture. There does not appear to be a pre-discussed agreement between the parties, so it would be difficult to charge the person who assisted with a Conspiracy crime. However, in this example, a person could still be charged under PC 32 for Accessory after the Fact.
The charge is also defended if there is no showing of an “overt act” by the parties. People could be sitting down and discussing the idea or concept of committing a crime, but if it does not go any further towards making that substantial step in the commission of the offense, then it is merely talking, and not a Conspiracy. Whether the act that is done after the discussion phase is an overt act, it also means the argument by your Criminal Defense Attorney. Many acts can be innocent and not in furtherance of or towards the commission of the crime discussed, and that is what makes this aspect easy to defend against. It’s debatable often enough to fight.
You can also withdraw, prior to making that overt act, so long as it is made is communicated to all parties and done before the act. Failing to show an overt act, or an agreement, would be a defense that there is insufficient evidence to prove you guilty of Conspiracy.
Conspiracy allegations often find themselves at the center of legal battles, primarily due to the encompassment of non-explicit actions or the zealous filing of charges by District Attorneys, sometimes even sans a concrete agreement. Navigating through Conspiracy charges demands the presence of a steadfast and informed PC 182 Ontario attorney by your side. At our firm, we pride ourselves on our specialization in tenaciously defending a plethora of cases that pivot around Conspiracy transgressions as stipulated under PC 182.
Leverage our offer of a complimentary initial consultation and take solace in the knowledge that our team stands at the ready, 24/7, poised to address any questions or uncertainties you might harbor. Entrust your defense to the Inland Empire Criminal Defense by dialing 909-281-0391. Situated in Ontario, CA, our commitment remains unwavering—to furnish our clientele with seasoned, proficient, and reliable legal counsel.