Conspiracy is an agreement between two or more people to accomplish a criminal act or a legal act through criminal means.
Most states have a civil cause of action for civil conspiracy if:
- Two or more people form an association,
- The association is for an unlawful objective,
- The two or more people agree or understand the objective and the manner to achieve the unlawful objective,
- The two or more people commit an unlawful act in furtherance of the conspiracy, and
- You are injured as a result.
Criminal conspiracy is a crime, meaning it is the government that punishes a conspirator for their actions. In some states you can face punishment ranging from jail time for 2 to 30 years, or serious fines. Criminal conspiracy is generally a crime once two or more people agree to an unlawful objective. Some states also require an unlawful act in furtherance of the conspiracy to be found guilty.
Civil conspiracy is a tort, or civil wrong. A private person is the one who sues and is awarded damages if they are injured by a conspiracy. Civil conspiracy only exists when you are injured as a result of an unlawful act in furtherance of the conspiracy. That means, if you are only injured because of the agreement to commit a crime by two or more people, you have no cause of action.
Additionally, those who injure you as a result of their unlawful act in furtherance of a conspiracy are jointly and severally liable for your damages. That means that any of the conspirators are liable for all of your damages, independent of the other conspirators.
If you think you have been injured by a conspiracy, it is highly recommended for you to contact a business attorney. Only they will be able to explain the issues and help defend your rights.