I. 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..…”
For a person to be convicted of a violation of PC 182, the prosecution must show that:
- You intended to agree and did agree with one or more persons to commit a crime;
- At the time of the agreement, the other members of the conspiracy intended that one or more of them would commit that crime;
- One of the conspiring parties did the following alleged overt acts to accomplish the crime;
- At least one of the overt acts was committed in California.
II. What does this mean?
An overt act is an act by one or more of the members of the conspiracy that is done to help accomplish the agreed-upon crime. The overt act must happen after the defendant has agreed to commit the crime. The overt act must be more than the act of agreeing or planning to commit the crime, but it does not have to be a criminal act itself. There must be an agreement that at least one overt act was made by each person in the alleged conspiracy against you, but a jury would not need to agree which specific overt acts were committed or who committed them. This could be something such as buying a gun, legally, with a license to carry. That, in of itself is not a crime, but if it is for the purposes of a person to commit Murder, then it, even if that person does not assist in the Murder, they can be charged with Conspiracy if they have knowledge of the reason for the purchase and of its criminal nature.
Being part of a conspiracy does not require you to have personal knowledge of the identities of the other parties that are in the conspiracy or what their job or role is in that conspiracy. Someone who merely accompanies the members of the conspiracy does not make that person guilty of conspiracy unless it can be shown that they intended to commit the crimes involved in the conspiracy. You can even still be liable for conspiracy if, during the crime you intended to commit, the other people in your conspiracy died. In other words, the agreement and overt acts are sufficient by the group, even if not all members survive the attempted crime.
If the cooperation of two or more persons is necessary to commit a substantive crime, and there is no element of an alleged conspiracy that is not present in the substantive crime, then the persons involved cannot be charged with both the substantive crime and conspiracy to commit the substantive crime. In that sense, the main crime would consume or take over the conspiracy, and you could only be charged with that crime. This is also known as Wharton’s Rule.
There also need not be a written, formal contract that can be saved on a person’s computer for there to be a Conspiracy. The agreement can itself be inferred based on the actions taken by the parties present, even if it’s not expressly said or agreed to.
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.
IV. Common Defenses
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.
V. Call Today
Conspiracy charges are often litigated because some acts done by the people charges are not overt acts, or the DAs aggressively file charges for Conspiracy without even finding an agreement. This can mean good things in terms of defending the charges against you if you are charged with Conspiracy. Our PC 182 Ontario attorney has successfully defended numerous cases of people accused of Conspiracy violations under PC 182. The initial consultation is free and we are available to answer your questions 24/7. Call the Inland Empire Criminal Defense today at 909-939-7126! Located in Ontario, CA.