In Georgia, criminal conspiracy is the criminal offense of two or more individuals coming together to agree to commit a crime. One of the individuals must also commit an overt act toward successfully perpetrating the agreed-upon crime.
Conspiracy is a broad category of crimes involving multiple players coming together to engage in criminal activity. Specific federal anti-conspiracy statutes are found throughout federal law. State statutes also have anti-conspiracy laws. Criminal conspiracy is a felony, even when the crime planned and carried out is a misdemeanor.
In recent years, many white-collar criminal prosecutions have included allegations of conspiracy.
A person or company typically is guilty of conspiracy to commit a crime if that person or business does one of the following:
- To facilitate or promote its commission agrees with another individual or business to engage in conduct that constitutes a crime or an attempt or solicitation of a crime; or
- Agrees to aid another person or business in planning, committing, or attempting to solicit a crime.
What Are the Advantages of Charging Someone with Criminal Conspiracy?
Bringing a conspiracy charge offers the prosecution several different benefits. Prosecutors usually learn of a conspiracy while it is in an early stage; therefore, they may prosecute before the underlying crime occurs. Additionally, prosecutors may be able to charge defendants simultaneously and offer evidence against the group.
Although evidence is difficult to collect in criminal conspiracy cases, since most of the agreements must be inferred from what little evidence exists, trial judges often have more compassion for the prosecutors.
What Elements Are Needed to Prove Criminal Conspiracy?
The two key elements in establishing a conspiracy are an agreement and an act in furtherance of the conspiracy by one of the actors:
- A key element in prosecuting a defendant for conspiracy is establishing the agreement. The agreement that forms the basis for conspiracy need not be written, oral, or even explicit but is often inferred from the facts of the specific case. There is an agreement if the parties meet and reach an understanding to work for a common purpose.
- Most criminal conspiracy statutes also demand that at least one of the parties has committed an overt act to further the conspiracy.
Is Criminal Conspiracy the Same as Asking Someone to Commit a Crime?
No. Solicitation is the crime of asking someone to perpetrate a crime on your behalf. The individual asking is typically not partaking in the underlying crime at all. With conspiracy, all individuals who partake in the conspiracy are committed to executing the underlying crime.
Solicitation occurs when someone asks, demands, hires, commands, or encourages someone else to perpetrate a crime, such as murder or prostitution. Neither party needs to perform an act in furtherance of the crime; the crime of solicitation occurs when the solicitation is communicated to another person. The solicited person does not even have to agree to commit the crime. The individual accused of solicitation must have purposely requested the other individual to commit the crime (with the other person’s specific intent to perpetrate the crime).
Solicitation can differ in degrees based upon the age of the solicitor, the age of the solicited, whether the crime is a felony or misdemeanor, and the exact nature of the crime. The age of the parties matters when the crime concerned is prostitution or statutory rape.
Georgia organizes its solicitation in the following manner, although this will certainly differ from state to state:
- First Degree: A person over eighteen, with intent, solicits a minor, sixteen years or younger, into committing a major felony. Such major felonies include murder and rape.
- Second Degree: A person with intent solicits another adult into committing a major felony. Such major felonies include murder and rape.
- Third Degree: A person over eighteen, with intent, solicits a minor, sixteen years or younger, into committing a minor felony.
- Fourth Degree: A person with intent solicits another adult into committing a minor felony.
- Fifth Degree: A person with intent solicits another individual to commit a misdemeanor.
Are There Defenses to Solicitation?
The Model Penal Code does create a defense of renunciation for solicitation. If the solicitor has fully and voluntarily renounced their criminal intent and has either persuaded the solicited person not to commit the crime or has stopped them somehow, the solicitor has successfully renounced the crime of solicitation.
They have renounced their criminal purpose. Some courts will permit this defense. Also, the solicitation does not amount to an attempt to commit the solicited crime unless the solicitor has made preparations with the solicited in furtherance of the crime.
Solicitation is also a non-merger crime: a person cannot be charged with solicitation of a crime and the actual crime itself. The prosecutor must determine which crime is more serious. This can work in a defendant’s favor if the prosecution is ignorant and decides to prosecute a crime that is more difficult to establish.
Can I Be Convicted of Conspiracy to Commit a Misdemeanor in Georgia?
Yes. A person can be charged and convicted of conspiring to commit a misdemeanor. The punishment for conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor is the same punishment that the individual would have faced if they had committed the underlying crime. For example, if the misdemeanor has a year sentence in county jail, the individual will be sentenced to that time in jail if found guilty of conspiring to commit the misdemeanor.
A misdemeanor crime is a kind of criminal offense that is more serious than a citation but less serious than felony charges. They are less severe to moderate crimes associated with less severe punishments. In most states, the main distinguishing feature of a misdemeanor is that it is usually punishable by a sentence of one-year maximum in a county jail facility (not a state prison facility, which is generally reserved for felony charges).
A broad range of crimes is classified as misdemeanors. Misdemeanor crimes can range from assault and battery to property crimes and other violations. State laws may differ widely regarding which crimes are classified as misdemeanors.
What Are Some Common Examples of Misdemeanors?
The term “misdemeanor” can include various criminal offenses and violations. These can include:
- Traffic offenses, especially those involving DUI or drunk driving;
- Assault and battery and other fairly minor offenses involving bodily harm;
- Theft, larceny, and other comparable crimes involving property;
- Possession of a controlled substance and various drug crimes;
- Perjury crimes
- Obscenity and other related crimes
- Gun possession violations
What Kind of Punishment Will I Face If the Underlying Crime Is a Felony?
If the underlying crime for the conspiracy is a felony, then the defendant may face two possible types of punishments.
If the potential punishments for the underlying felony do not include life imprisonment or death, then the defendant may face:
- One year in prison to one-half of the maximum the time in prison that a person would face if convicted of the underlying felony.
- One-half of the maximum fine that the individual would have faced if they were convicted of committing the underlying felony
- Both a fine and prison time
The penalty a person faces for conspiring to commit a felony crime involving the death penalty is one to 10 years in prison.
Do I Need a Lawyer If I Am Accused of Conspiracy in Georgia?
A Georgia criminal lawyer will explain your possible defenses and legal rights to you. Your attorney will also labor to get your conspiracy charge dropped. Contact a lawyer immediately.