What is the Crime of Conspiracy?

In Florida, conspiracy is defined by statute as a person who agrees, conspires, combines, or confederates with another person or persons to commit any offense commits the offense of criminal conspiracy. In lay terms, conspiracy occurs when two or more individuals agree to commit a crime and intend for that crime to actually occur. All that is needed is the intent and the agreement, no further steps towards completing the intended crime are required. A simple example would be two individuals who agree to rob a bank together, with one individual saying “Hey, let’s go rob a bank,” and the other individual saying “O.K.”. Even if the robbery never occurs, they could still be charged with conspiracy. If they were to actually rob the bank then they could face both conspiracy and robbery charges.

The state does not need direct evidence, such as having the conversation recorded or in writing, to prove the agreement was formed. The agreement can be inferred from circumstantial evidence surrounding the crime. Surrounding circumstances that can be considered as circumstantial evidence of an agreement may be being at the scene of a crime together and actions that would constitute aiding and abetting, although those factors standing alone are not enough to prove a conspiracy occurred. If a crime is committed by more than one individual and their actions while committing the offense indicate that they would have needed to have a prior agreement to be able to execute the crime in the manner that they did could be circumstantial evidence of a conspiracy.

There are many possible defenses available for charges of conspiracy. If an individual was merely at the scene of the crime or aided and abetted the perpetrator of the crime but did nothing further, for example giving the perpetrator a ride to the crime scene, this alone would not be enough to prove a conspiracy occurred. An individual who later withdraws from the conspiracy and also prevents the intended crime from occurring has a valid defense to conspiracy. An individual cannot form a conspiracy with a law enforcement officer, even if the officer is undercover, because the element of intent would be missing as the officer would not have the intention to commit the actual crime.

Conspiracy cases are complex criminal matters and anyone charged with conspiracy should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney regarding their case.

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