The majority of Americans are unfamiliar with the nature of federal conspiracy laws. If someone were to ask you the definition of a criminal act, what would your answer be? Most of us would assume that a criminal act involves some type of action i.e. committed murder, or robbed a bank, but this isn’t always the case. Especially when considering the dynamics of federal conspiracy laws.
If you’ve been arrested due to a federal conspiracy, contact attorneys Tad Nelson & Amber Spurlock [Former federal prosecutor]. Our phone number is 281-280-0100.
The Broad Nature of Federal Conspiracy Laws
Oftentimes, media outlets report on crimes that carry federal charges, but main in their audience may not understand federal conspiracy charges.
The way the law is written, the definition of a criminal act isn’t precise, affording federal prosecutors a broad range of activities to criminalize. Innocent people are often charged with federal offenses due to circumstances that may be beyond their control, or intent. There are cases where people were charged with conspiracy due to unknowingly being in a vehicle with someone who has conspired against the United States & her laws.
Other situations that could result in an innocent person being arrested are listed below.
- Being present when FBI, ATF, or DEA officers raid a location where criminal activity is suspected to be afoot. If contraband is found, it’s possible for everyone to be charged with possession.
- Being a member of a firm/business that stole their clients’ money or other valuable possessions. Although one doesn’t have to have knowledge of the conspiracy, facilitating the conspiracy, even without intent, can bring federal criminal charges.
Whether you’re guilty or innocent, your civil rights are important. Attorney Amber Spurlock will defend you and respond to any actions against you that are initiated by the Department of Justice and/or the USAO.
Understanding Federal Conspiracy Charges
A conspiracy is an agreement between at least two people to commit a federal crime. A “prosecutable conspiracy” occurs when 2 or more people reach an agreement to commit a crime. This standard applies to intent, even if no crime has been committed. For illustrative purposes we’ve listed a few more examples of federally prosecutable criminal conspiracies below.
If two people had a conversation about robbing a bank, this could be considered a federal offense.
If those same two people planned to rob the bank, but never took action, a federal conspiracy has occurred.
A person who overheard the conversation about robbing the bank, but wasn’t involved, could also be charged in connection with the conspiracy.
A person who transported the conspirators to the targeted bank, but didn’t know a bank robbery was the intent of their passengers, could also be charged with a federal conspiracy.
Although prosecutors prefer an overt action to have occurred prior to pursuing a conviction, the law isn’t implicit in this regard. Federal law doesn’t require any affirmative action on part of the defendant to warrant a federal indictment.
If you and a friend discussed a robbing a bank, and decided to purchase ski masks for that purpose, a federally prosecutable criminal conspiracy has been committed. Although buying ski masks isn’t a crime in itself, it makes it seem as if you’re taking the plot to commit the crime further.
SPECIAL NOTE: Most states require at least one overt action to be taken by at least one conspirator before criminal charges can be filed.
Penalties if Convicted of a Federal Conspiracy
In Texas, the penalties for federal conspiracy convictions should fit the crime. If the intended crime was a felony, the resulting penalties would be assessed under felony guidelines. The same can be said for misdemeanor offenses.
Punishment for criminal conspiracies vary widely.
For instance, you could serve as little as 1 year behind bars and a $4,000 fine, or 5 to 99 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Then there are the residual penalties like the stigma of criminality, potential probationary terms, and diminished career options.
SPECIAL NOTE: The maximum penalty for conspiracy is 5 years, however, other federal & state charges may be stacked.
Houston Defense Lawyers for Federal Conspiracy Defendants
Houston federal attorney Amber Spurlock is a former federal prosecutor and knows the ins and outs of the system. As a former military officer, she’s well aware of international law, effective defense strategies, and has the discipline it takes to win. Board Certified® criminal law attorney Tad Nelson brings over 24 years of experience and has a knack for finding flaws in the prosecution.
With The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates as your legal team, you can have confidence in your legal team. You’ll be represented by a few of the best trained and experienced defense lawyers in the Houston, TX general region.
Call us at 281-280-0100 to schedule a consultation time. No charge.