Criminal conspiracy refers to a situation in which two or more individuals agree to commit a crime and proceed to act with the intent to carry out that crime. You might face criminal conspiracy charges if you participate in discussions or facilitate a crime even if you were unaware that an actual crime was taking place.
The doctrine of joint enterprise can also lead to a criminal conspiracy charge if you do not act to prevent or report a potential crime. By understanding how your actions might lead to a criminal conspiracy charge regarding a crime of which you are unaware, you can take the best steps toward building a strong defense.
Can you unwittingly agree to commit a crime?
Agreeing to commit a crime is the first step toward complicity in a criminal conspiracy. You might unwittingly agree to participate in a crime if, for example, you jokingly agree to join your friends in a crime that you do not think will actually occur. You might also inadvertently agree to participate by virtue of your presence alone.
Can you unknowingly act with the intent to participate in a conspiracy?
You might face conspiracy charges if your actions contribute to the fulfillment of a crime, even if you are unaware that a crime is actually taking place. Officials might similarly charge you if your co-conspirator acts to commit an agreed-upon crime, even if you do not physically aid in the process.
The presence of circumstantial evidence and the application of the joint enterprise doctrine can make it seem difficult to overcome a criminal conspiracy charge, even if you were unaware of the conspiracy in the first place. You have the right to defend yourself against such charges, though, and should take every reasonable measure to do so.