Facing criminal charges can be intimidating. These charges can become even worse if the authorities charge you with conspiracy to commit a crime, which can enable them to greatly increase the potential penalties. A conspiracy can exist any time two or more individuals reach an agreement to attempt to perform an illegal activity. For a person to be guilty of conspiracy, they must have known the ultimate object of the plan was unlawful, but proceeded with it anyway.
Due to the severity of penalties involved, it is important to understand what constitutes conspiracy and how an experienced attorney can help to protect those charged. If you are facing conspiracy charges, you need the help of a Georgia conspiracy lawyer as soon as possible in order to begin building your defense.
In recent years, prosecutors have become more aggressive in adding conspiracy charges to a wide range of criminal complaints. Some of the most common types of offenses conspiracy lawyers in Georgia deal with include:
- Drug possession, distribution, or trafficking
- Distribution of obscene materials
- Mail or wire fraud
- Money laundering
Leverage for Prosecutors
The filing of conspiracy charges typically gives the government more leverage. When several people have been charged at once, prosecutors can negotiate with one or more individual defendants to try to get them to testify against their co-conspirators. Individuals who cooperate can get greatly reduced sentences or perhaps no significant punishment at all, while the other defendants could find themselves facing much harsher sentences.
In these types of cases, criminal defendants often find themselves facing harsh mandatory minimum sentences which lawmakers in Georgia have enacted, especially in drug cases. This reduces the discretion of the courts to consider mitigating factors, such as whether it was the person’s first offense and whether they are considered a productive member of the community.
Elements of Conspiracy
In the case of conspiracy, the prosecutors must address the mental state of the defendant and show bad intent, perhaps by using ambiguous statements that someone heard, or the self-interested assertions of another defendant. With these elements in mind, an experienced Georgia conspiracy attorney has worked with prosecutors before, and they know what kind of evidence they will try to use even before they use it. They will listen to your story without judgment and will use every tool at their disposal to help you achieve a fair result.
Importance of an “Overt Act”
In most conspiracy cases, at least one of the conspirators must commit an overt act in an attempt to commit the crime. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that when Congress enacted the federal drug conspiracy law, it made a specific choice not to require the commission of an overt act. The defendant had argued that the law does not punish criminal thoughts, but the high court replied that the criminal agreement itself is a punishable act.
Prosecutors know how to use all the tricks of their trade – including the threat of conspiracy charges – to pressure defendants, who are often confused and panicked. Therefore, the help of an experienced conspiracy attorney in Georgia is essential to protect someone’s rights and make the strongest possible case on their behalf.