Legal Bridge can offer a service that connects people to firms who will represent them in the event that they are accused of such a crime. These firms have vast experience and specialist expertise in all the aspects in dealing with conspiracy cases from the police station, upon initial arrest, through to Crown Court proceedings.
Within criminal law a conspiracy can be considerably more mundane than its pop-culture connotations often suggest. In the correct circumstances, a conspiracy occurs when 2 people simply agree to commit an offence even though they never act upon that agreement. In the more complex cases a conspiracy is often associated with organised crime.
Within conspiracy law there is statutory offence prosecuted under the Criminal Law Act 1977 and there is also conspiracy law within common law, e.g. conspiracy to defraud. Both situations have similar requirements but the statute defines the offence in more detail.
Conspiracy – an Inchoate Crime
Conspiracy is often referred to as an ‘inchoate crime’ along with attempting and encouraging or assisting a crime; where an individual has taken steps to commit a crime and this alone is an offence without the planned crime actually taking place. An example of this is if Person 1 and Person 2 agreed to murder Person 3, but never actually kill Person 3, they can still be guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.
Requirements for Conspiracy
The following elements are needed for an offence to have been committed:
1. 2 or more persons to agree to carry out a criminal offence.
2. There must be an intention to be a party to an agreement to do an unlawful act.
If there are only 2 people involved and the other person is the 1st person’s spouse, or if they are a child, or an intended victim of the offence; it cannot be conspiracy. Repentance, lack of opportunity and failure are all immaterial to the commission of the offence.
Prosecution of Conspiracy
If the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) seek to prosecute a charge of conspiracy it is possible that the offence that the accused conspired to commit never actually occurred. This is because if the ‘substantive offence’ is also committed, the CPS guidelines state they need to justify prosecuting both offences or choose to either prosecute the conspiracy charge or the substantive offence charge. It is rarely felt that the substantive counts do not represent the overall criminality of the defendant’s actions, in which case both will be prosecuted.
As a conspiracy charge is usually brought due to a lack of evidence for a substantive offence, it can be very complex and difficult to prove. It must be shown that the conspirators agreed on a course of conduct involving an act or omission by at least 1 of them which is prohibited by the criminal law, knowing or intending that a criminal act will take place as part of the course of conduct or as part of their agreement.
Potential conspirators may attempt to keep as little evidence as possible of such agreements so finding the evidence can be very difficult. Even if evidence of one of the conspirators does exist, the reliability of that evidence will be highly questionable.
Conspiracy can be a difficult offence to prosecute due to the nature of the offence and the evidential requirements. However, it is a very serious offence to be charged with and the penalty for conspiracy can be very severe so the accused person should always instruct solicitors with experience in this area of law without delay.