Texas Criminal Conspiracy Law – Penal Code 15.02

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 What Is the Crime of Conspiracy in Texas?

Under Texas conspiracy law, a conspiracy is defined as the intent to commit a felony by agreement with one or more individuals to commit that felony. The defendant must have committed an overt act under the conspiracy agreement.

Can I Get In Trouble for Trying to Commit a Crime?

Yes, an individual may be charged for only attempting to commit a crime in the State of Texas. There are numerous charges related to an effort put forth to commit a crime, including attempt and solicitation.

An attempt involves doing everything in an individual’s power to commit a crime. An invitation to commit a crime is an example of solicitation.

Conspiracy is another type of crime that falls into this category.

What Is Criminal Attempt?

Under common law, if an individual commits a misdemeanor or a felony, for example, attempting to steal something or to cheat at gambling, it is a crime. In order to convict a defendant, the prosecution must show they took a substantial step beyond mere preparation to commit the crime.

Attempt is a type of inchoate offense, also referred to as an inchoate crime. These are crimes that may not have been completed, but harm would have occurred if they were.

Is Criminal Conspiracy the Same as Asking Someone to Commit a Crime?

Solicitation is the crime of asking another individual to perpetrate a crime on an individual’s behalf. Typically, the individual who is asking is not involved in the underlying crime.

Individuals who participate in a conspiracy are dedicated to committing the underlying crime.

What Is Conspiracy?

Conspiracy is an action that involves three or more individuals coming together in a coordinated effort to commit an overtly criminal act, for example, robbing a bank or stealing a car.

Many individuals view conspiracy as a crime in and of itself. However, it is considered to be less serious than the crime the conspirators were planning to commit.

What Is an Incomplete Crime?

An inchoate crime, or attempted crime, is a crime that is committed with the intent to commit a specific crime. Because courts seek to prevent grave crimes from occurring, inchoate crimes are a separate and distinct category of crime.

In general, an individual cannot be convicted for an incomplete crime as well as the actual crime. For example, an individual cannot be convicted of both attempted murder and murder.

However, conspiracy is an exception to this rule. If a specific crime was committed, an individual may be charged with both conspiracy and the actual crime.

In order to convict a defendant of an inchoate crime, the prosecution must show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant had the specific intent to commit the crime.

What Are Examples of Incomplete Crimes?

Examples of incomplete crimes or inchoate crimes include conspiracy, solicitation, and attempt.

Conspiracy

Conspiracy is an agreement between two or more individuals to commit a crime with the specific intent to accomplish their criminal objective, for example, to sell drugs or to rob a bank. The majority of states also require an overt act to be committed following the agreement.

For example, simply preparing to commit the offense will constitute an overt act. In addition, the crime has to be committed by at least two individuals with the intent to commit it.

If one of the individuals made a fake agreement, there is no conspiracy because no guilty parties were involved.

Solicitation

Solicitation consists of inciting, counseling, advising, urging, or commanding another individual to commit a crime with the intent that the individual commits that crime. Even if the individual who was solicited has no intent to commit the crime or does not commit it, solicitation can be charged.

If the solicited crime is committed, both of the parties will be held responsible.

Attempt

Attempt is an act that is done with the intent to commit a crime, but the perpetrator fails to complete it. The defendant must have intended to commit the crime as well as taken substantial steps towards committing the offense in order to be found guilty of attempt.

Generally, the defendant must have been dangerously close to committing the crime. A defendant can not be charged with attempt if they did not have the specific attempt to commit the crime.

Can I Be Charged With Conspiracy if There Was No Verbal or Written Agreement?

In Texas, the law does not require that the defendant had a verbal or written conspiracy agreement with one or more individuals to be convicted of conspiracy. The prosecution can infer a conspiracy agreement from the actions of each of the conspirators.

What About Factual Impossibility?

Even if an individual cannot commit the crime because of facts they do not understand, they may still be convicted if they have the required criminal intent. For example, an individual may still be found guilty of purchasing cocaine, even if what they actually purchased is powdered sugar, because they intended to purchase cocaine.

What Are the Possible Penalties for Criminal Attempts?

Depending on the crime that was attempted, attempted, or inchoate, crimes may be punished differently. The punishments for attempted crimes may be as follows:

  • A defendant may face life in prison if convicted of attempted murder;
  • An attempt to commit a crime punishable by life imprisonment is punishable by imprisonment in state prison for five to ten years;
  • An attempt to commit a crime with a maximum penalty less than life imprisonment can result in a state prison sentence of one-half the full sentence;
  • An attempt to commit a crime punishable by a fine may be punished with a fine that is equal to one-half of the total fine.

What Is the Punishment for a Conspiracy Conviction in Texas?

In Texas, conspiracy is classified as a Class A misdemeanor. This means conspiracy is punishable by:

  • No more than one year in a state jail facility;
  • A $4,000 criminal fine;
  • A combination of both.

What Kind of Punishment Will I Face if the Underlying Crime Is a Felony?

A defendant may face two possible punishments if the conspiracy that underlies the offense is a felony. A defendant may face the following if the underlying felony does not carry a sentence of life imprisonment or death:

  • One year in prison to one-half of the maximum time in prison that a person would face if they were convicted of the underlying felony;
  • One-half of the maximum fine the individual would have faced if they were convicted of committing the underlying felony;
  • Both a fine and prison time.

If the defendant is convicted of conspiring to commit a felony crime that involves the death penalty, one to ten years in prison may be imposed. If an individual has any questions about the possible punishments they may face, they should consult with a Texas lawyer.

Are There Any Defenses to a Conspiracy Charge I Cannot Use in Texas?

Yes, there may be certain defenses to conspiracy charges that an individual cannot use in Texas but that are available in other states, including:

  • One or more of the co-conspirators is not criminally responsible for the criminal act;
  • The conspired crime was actually committed;
  • One of the alleged co-conspirators was acquitted of the conspiracy charge;
    • It may, however, be a defense if two or more co-conspirators were acquitted;
  • The defendant is in a protected class of people legally incapable of committing the crime;
  • One or more of the defendant’s co-conspirators has not been prosecuted for or convicted of conspiracy;
  • One or more of the co-conspirators received immunity; or
  • One or more of the co-conspirators was convicted of a different offense.

Should I Talk to an Attorney About a Conspiracy Charge?

If you have been charged with any type of conspiracy crime in Texas, it is essential to consult with a Texas criminal attorney as soon as possible. Conspiracy charges can be difficult to defend, as they do not always require proof of the underlying conspired offense.

Your lawyer can provide you with advice regarding Texas laws and available defenses. In addition, your lawyer may be able to negotiate with the prosecution for a dismissal of the charges against you, if possible, a reduction in the charges or a plea deal.

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