In most criminal cases prosecuted by district attorneys, the prosecutor must prove both that the defendant intended to commit a crime and that they actually performed the act. A rare exception to this rule is criminal charges involving conspiracy. To secure a conviction under the state’s conspiracy laws, a prosecutor only needs to prove that a person agreed to and plotted to commit a crime.
However, the conspiracy laws in the state of Texas are far more nuanced than this. Depending upon the severity of the agreed-to crime, a conspiracy charge can range in seriousness from a minor misdemeanor to some of the harshest charges under the state’s penal code.
No matter the exact circumstances that led to an arrest for conspiracy, a Frisco conspiracy lawyer at Barbieri Law Firm, P.C. can assist. One of our dedicated criminal defense attorneys can help you understand why you are facing conspiracy charges, what the prosecutor needs to prove, and deal with any other charges that may accompany the conspiracy accusation.
The Core Concept of Conspiracy
Conspiracy is an inchoate crime. This means that the criminal conduct is the preparation to commit a crime alone, not actually performing the criminal activity. As applied to conspiracy, two or more people must prepare to commit the crime.
Specifically, Texas Penal Code § 15.02 states that a person is guilty of conspiracy if they agree with one or more persons to commit a felony-level crime. They must do this with the intent to actually commit the crime. The same statute expands upon this concept by stating that the conspirators must commit an overt act that constitutes a substantial step towards the commission of the crime.
For example, if Ms. A says to Ms. B, “Let’s break into Mr. C’s home and steal a TV,” and Ms. B agrees, this counts as a conspiracy to commit a crime. However, a prosecutor can only gain a conviction if they can also prove that the two participants took a concrete step towards committing the crime. This can include evidence that they:
- Drew up escape plans
- Rented a van for the crime
- Arranged for a buyer
It is important to note that none of the above activities are by themselves illegal—it is when they are combined with the intent to commit the crime that they count as a criminal offense, as a knowledgeable Frisco conspiracy attorney could explain in further detail.
The Varying Levels of Conspiracy
The seriousness of a conspiracy accusation depends upon the type of crime that the conspirators agree to commit. The core version discussed above is a felony of the second degree.
Under Texas state law, an allegation involving a conspiracy to commit a felony moves forward at one level lower on the criminal penalties scale than the core offense. As a result, a felony of the second degree can bring conspiracy charges that go forward as a felony of the third degree. If the underlying charge is a state jail felony, conspiracy is a Class A misdemeanor.
Thus, a person does not need to commit a criminal offense in the traditional sense to face multiple years in prison. The mere agreement to commit a crime and taking a step towards its completion are enough for a prosecutor to secure a conviction. A skilled conspiracy lawyer in Frisco can help prevent this from happening.
Let a Frisco Conspiracy Attorney Fight for You
Charges involving conspiracy can confuse and intimidate many defendants. They may not understand how they can face criminal charges despite not actually having committed an offense. In reality, merely agreeing to commit a crime with another person and then taking a substantial step towards doing it is illegal in and of itself. Defendants who are facing conspiracy charges in Frisco need to work with an attorney that understands the nuances of the state’s penal laws.
A Frisco conspiracy lawyer can provide invaluable guidance and support throughout your case. Our legal professionals work with clients to evaluate the actions of all people involved in the conspiracy. They also investigate the incident to determine if you took any substantial step toward committing a crime. Finally, they look to see if you disavowed the conspiracy in a way that could result in the charges being dropped. Contact a diligent attorney at Barbieri Law Firm, P.C. now to discuss your case.