The best Connecticut defense attorneys would agree that frequently Police will cast a wide net with conspiracy allegations where they often lack the evidence to make an arrest for the occurrence of any actual crime taking place. The mere fact that someone agrees with another to commit a crime and then does any act in furtherance of conspiracy is sufficient to constitute conspiracy to commit a crime in Connecticut. Conspiracy is known as an inchoate crime. This means that some actions or preparation was commenced in furtherance of the commission of a crime but the crime itself was not completed. Criminal attempt is another inchoate crime. The successful completion of the objective of the conspiracy is not required in order to be charged with the crime of conspiracy. The act of conspiracy does not require some formal agreement or plan under Connecticut law the conspiracy can be inferred by the actions of the accused persons. Often the proof a conspiracy is established by circumstantial evidence alone. One of the most important aspects of conspiracy law in Connecticut is that the State does not charge you with the crime of conspiracy itself and there is no separate penalty for conspiracy. Rather, you will be charged with conspiracy to commit a specific criminal offense that you conspired to engage in and the penalty is exactly the same as if you were to have actually committed that crime. It may seem somewhat unfair that if you had some discussions about engaging in a crime and then took some action in furtherance of that plan but did not actually commit the crime that you should never the less face the same penalty as someone who actually committed the actual crime, but that is the law in Connecticut.
Defending against conspiracy charges is somewhat more intellectually and technically advanced than other areas of criminal law because by the very definition of conspiracy itself the crime implies that there are multiple defendants who have been accused of participation in the conspiracy. In a conspiracy case you not only have the State as an adversary but you also often also have the co-defendant’s attorneys who are advocating on behalf of their clients to contend with also. If you have been arrested for conspiracy to commit a crime in Stamford, Greenwich, Darien, Norwalk, Westport, New Canaan, Weston, Fairfield, Bridgeport or anywhere in Connecticut contact an experienced Connecticut criminal defense attorney today to protect your liberty and defend your rights. At the Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman we have compassion and understanding for the difficult position you facing. Of course you have many unanswered questions, lots of stress and confusion about what the future holds and how the Court process works. We are here to fight to get you the best possible outcome possible under the law and make the process as stress free as possible.The Statutory Definition of Criminal Conspiracy in Connecticut
The statutory reference for conspiracy is C.G.S. Section 53a-48. The elements of the crime of a conspiracy under Connecticut law are:
- Acting with a mental element of intent to engage in conduct that constitutes a crime to be performed
- An agreement with one or more persons to engage in the conduct
- Any one of the group takes an overt act in pursuance of the criminal objective
In reviewing the language of the statute we can see that criminal conspiracy is an offense that requires a mental intent to engage in conduct with the other coconspirators in furtherance of the objective of committing the criminal act. As such jokes, jests and talk of fantasy hypothetical actions are not criminal behavior. In order to be illegal, whatever you have planned has to be set in motion with a specific mental intention to actually commit a criminal offense.Agreement Between Two or More Individuals to Participate
Many people imagine some sort of formal plan out of a crime drama movie when they imagine a criminal conspiracy. However, there is no need for a formal agreement. The State does not have to establish that the conspirators agreed on each and every single detail of the plan. Also, the State does not have to prove that they had a formal agreement, or even that they met together. The agreement can be inferred by circumstantial evidence and the conduct of the parties. The State need only establish that that there was a plan among them and the defendant joined in that plan. Our Supreme Court has held that no proof of an actual agreement is required, all the State must do is use the facts to infer the plan from the circumstances surrounding the situation. In fact it is very rare that the State will have proof of an actual conspiracy such as a written document or email chain. In most cases the plan is proved by the separate acts of the individuals and by proof of circumstances by which the illegal confederation may be inferred.Requirement That Some Overt Action Be Taken in Furtherance of the Conspiracy
Unlike other States, the Connecticut Legislature has required that in order to be found guilty of a conspiracy to commit a crime (at least) one of the coconspirators must have taken some action called an “overt act” in furtherance of the conspiracy to commit a crime. Under Connecticut law this can be any physical action, step or conduct towards the goal of the conspiracy. The act that is required to be taken in furtherance of the conspiracy in Connecticut only needs to be taken by one of the conspirators. This means that even if only one of the conspirators takes some action towards the criminal objective then all the other conspirators would be guilty of the conspiracy to commit the crime. For example in a conspiracy to commit identity theft if one party obtains a skimming device then that would be a sufficient overt act to complete the elements of the crime of conspiracy to commit identity theft and everyone who was involved in the original planning of the conspiracy could be charged with the crime of conspiracy to commit identify theft even though they did not do anything. It is sufficient under the law that one person committed the overt act and that is enough to expose all of the coconspirators to criminal liability.Renunciation Defense
C.G.S. Section 53a-48(b) provides an affirmative defense of renunciation against a prosecution for conspiracy. This is a way out of a conspiracy that has been already set in motion. In order to assert this defense the accused needs to not only renounce his/her participation in the conspiracy but in addition the accused has the burden to thwart or prevent the crime from taking place. In practice this is a very difficult goal to accomplish and as such is not very often seen employed effectively.Police Often Use Conspiracy Charges When They Have Several Co-Defendant’s and Do Not Know Who Was the One Who Actually Committed the Crime
In many cases where the Police do not have enough evidence to establish who the culpable party was they will use conspiracy charges because that way they do not have to prove who actually committed the crime. Also, the use of conspiracy laws enables law enforcement to shut down an entire network of criminals without having to prove the elements of separate crimes against each of the members of the conspiracy. Instead all they need to do is prove that the members of the conspiracy were engaged in unlawful agreement to violate the law and that one of the members of the conspiracy engaged in an “overt act” towards the commission of that objective. This makes it a lot easier for Police to make arrests for conspiracy crimes in cases where they otherwise lack enough evidence to make an arrest for the crime itself. By using conspiracy crimes the police can arrest everyone involved in the conspiracy even though they lack sufficient evidence to prove who actually committed the crime. As explained earlier they can even arrest everyone if no crime occurred at all. This makes conspiracy allegations a powerful tool for law enforcement.Penalty for Conspiracy
Pursuant to C.G.S. Section 53a-51 the penalty for engaging in a criminal conspiracy is the same “grade and degree” as the most serious offense which is the object of the conspiracy. This codifies the general rule that when charging you for a conspiracy the Policy do not charge you with the crime of conspiracy itself. Rather they charge you with conspiracy to commit the most serious criminal offense to which you conspired to commit as well as any other crimes to which you may have conspired to commit. The only exception being that a conspiracy to commit a class A felony is punishable as a class B felony. This means that no matter how small your role, or even if you had no role other than to have discussions about the planning of the conspiracy itself once one of your coconspirators takes an overt act towards the commission of the crime contemplated then you are exposed to the maximum penalty for that offense – even if the offense was never committed and even of you never took any physical action towards the commission of any crimes.Never – Ever Make any Statements to the Police When Under Investigation for a Conspiracy Offense
The Police have a field day when working on conspiracy investigations as often they can work one party against the other. They often will lie to you when they have you under arrest or detention and tell you that the other coconspirators have already given statements against you. Do not be fooled by these primitive Police tactics. The bottom line is that IF the police already had all the facts and information about the case they would not be wasting their time trying to question you. In my 30 years of experience as a Connecticut criminal defense attorney I can’t tell you how many times my clients have dug themselves into huge holes my making voluntary statements to the Police. In many situations the Police simply do not have enough evidence against you to make an arrest. Unless you talk to them and make admissions which can and will be used against you they often don’t have enough evidence to make an arrest. The best advice is never answer any questions BEFORE you speak with a Connecticut criminal defense lawyer FIRST. If the Police are offering to “go easy” on you if you cooperate then we will want them to put those promises in writing before you start talking. In many cases Police have made promises to “go easy” or “help out” clients who cooperated and those turned out to be empty promises that did not materialize into anything tangible. For these reasons, no matter what the Police tell you, no matter how nervous you are always ask to speak with and have a Connecticut criminal defense lawyer present before you answer any questions. This is your Constitutional right.Defending Conspiracy Allegations
While conspiracy is a tough case to defend there are some defense tactics which can be used to defend an individual accused of conspiracy. The first area of defense is to attack the validity of the so called “agreement” which is often inferred from circumstantial evidence by the State. The fact that there was no actual de facto agreement per se but rather the presumption of an agreement which is presumed based upon the facts can be a weak area of the State’s case. The State has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a “intent” to commit a criminal act. Often as with the “agreement” this intent is inferred from circumstantial evidence.
Another area of defense is disproving that any “overt act” was taken in furtherance of the “agreement” between the alleged coconspirators.
Obviously renunciation is a valid defense but is rarely effectively employed as it requires the total negation of the crime meaning you have to act to prevent the occurrence of the crime. Finally, in some situations it can be shown that you were operating under a mistake of law (i.e. that you reasonably believed that you were agreeing to commit a lawful act). Finally, some people are just in the wrong place at the wrong time and Police charge you with conspiracy just because you were there. If you did not participate in the planning or conspiracy of a crime you can’t be charged with it for example just because you gave someone a ride in your car (and you had no idea that they were going to commit a crime) a valid defense can be raised. Yes, it is true that Connecticut Police arrest people for conspiracy just for giving the wrong person a ride in your car. In my more than 30 years of practice as a Connecticut criminal defense attorney I have seen it happen many times.Accelerated Rehabilitation Program
For first time offenders the accelerated rehabilitation Program may be an ideal manner in which to resolve your case while leading to a dismissal of all charges against you and maintaining a clean criminal record. This program is appears very simple but there is a lot of planning and effective lawyering that goes into the submission of an effective presentation to the Court. For a more detailed discussion of the accelerated rehabilitation program please visit my guide to the accelerated rehabilitation program which discusses is greater detail all aspects of this program.
First you have to convince the Court that the crime is “not so serious.” Depending on the facts of your case this may possibly present an issue which will require some effective argument and persuasion. Obviously, having a skilled Connecticut Criminal defense attorney who is able to put a favorable spin on the situation and present arguments of mitigation is essential to getting your application approved. A good Connecticut criminal defense attorney will prepare carefully for your accelerated rehabilitation program hearing by preparing a comprehensive mitigation package consisting of characters references; school transcripts; community service records and other information attesting to your excellent character to help persuade the Court to grant you the program. The final and most crucial step in getting the accelerated rehabilitation program granted is a concise and persuasive oral argument which an Connecticut criminal defense lawyer will present to the Court on your behalf to help explain the circumstances that lead to your involvement in the alleged offense and explain to the Court why you are a good candidate for the program.Contact a Connecticut Criminal Conspiracy Attorney at the Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman Today!
We provide free initial case consultations. We have more than 30 years of experience defending criminal conspiracy charges throughout Fairfield County and the State of Connecticut. We will carefully listen to all the facts of your case and aggressively defend your freedom and stand up to defend your rights. In many cases, working with an experienced Connecticut criminal defense lawyer can make the difference in having your case dismissed or reduced down to a lesser charge.
If you have been arrested for conspiracy in Stamford, New Canaan, Norwalk, Fairfield, Darien, Wilton, Westport, Cos Cob, Weston, Greenwich, Bridgeport and throughout the County of Fairfield do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman. Our rates are reasonable and we offer payments plans as needed. We accept all major credit cards. Call Attorney Friedman at (203) 357-5555 to schedule your free initial consultation we are available 24/7. Or you can contact us online for a prompt response.