A conspiracy under Virginia law is two or more persons agreeing to commit a crime. Nothing more beyond that is required other than a substantial step must be taken by one of the conspirators in furtherance of that crime. This does not mean that the crime must be attempted or completed. Conspiracy is essentially a thought crime where two or more persons agree to do something illegal. When someone is charged with conspiracy, the government has probable cause to believe that they agreed with one or more other persons to commit a crime in Virginia.
If you are facing charges of conspiracy, then you need a Virginia conspiracy lawyer who is willing to go all the way to trial. When prosecutors know they are dealing with a tenacious defense attorney who is not going to take a criminal charge for their client without a fight, that gives them pause about going to trial on a weaker case.
Common Ways Fraud is Charged
There are two main ways conspiracy can be charged. One is in the financial realm where multiple people come up with a scheme to defraud individuals or corporate entities of money. The other most common way conspiracies play out involves drugs and the trafficking of drugs. No drug crime is ever committed without other people being involved. Usually, there are many players involved. All players involved and identified by law enforcement can be charged and heavily investigated with a conspiracy involving those drugs.
Whenever there is a crime that involves co-defendants, the government might believe they have a conspiracy charge they can level against each participating defendant to increase their exposure to punishment if they are found guilty. A person charged with conspiracy to commit a crime can be charged with actually committing the crime. When a crime is committed by two or more people and the government believes there was a conspiracy to commit the crime beforehand, they often charge a person with the conspiracy and the underlying crime. When the underlying offense is committed or attempted and the government believes that a conspiracy took place beforehand, they can charge the conspiracy and the underlying offense.
Perhaps the most common way someone is charged with a conspiracy is when they are arrested for committing or attempting to commit a crime. To soften the blow they are about to get from the justice system, the person agrees to turn evidence over to the government about conspirators or other co-defendants. Sometimes people are wrongfully accused of a conspiracy simply because they are caught doing something illegal and they are trying to bring other people in to soften their sentencing. Collaborating with a knowledgeable Virginia conspiracy lawyer allows the accused to be proactive and ensure that they are not wrongfully named as a co-defendant.
An overt act is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person is guilty of conspiracy. When the conspiracy statute the person is charged with requires that an overt act be committed, the government cannot win simply on the agreement to commit the crime. One or more of the conspirators must engage in some act in furtherance of that conspiracy. That act does not need to be the crime or an attempt to commit the crime.
Contacting a Virginia Conspiracy Attorney
The most important quality to look for in a Virginia conspiracy lawyer is experience. The second most important quality is aggressiveness. An attorney who handles conspiracy cases knows what to look for and knows how to fight. Knowing what to look for and how to fight is of little help to someone unless their attorney is determined and willing to fight for cases that are difficult to prove.