If you are being charged with conspiracy in Virginia, you are facing serious charges, not only for the crime of conspiracy, but also for the underlying crime that you are accused of conspiring to commit. You could be convicted of two separate crimes—each with its own sentence. Fortunately, with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, you can build a strong defense that may result in the charges against you being dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense.
What Is Conspiracy?
A conspiracy involves two or more people deciding to commit a crime or to commit a lawful act by an unlawful means. You do not need to know all the details of the criminal plan to be charged with this crime. It is sufficient if you know a portion of the plan, some of the people involved in the crime, or any of the details of how the funds or stolen property will be divided between the conspirators.
Unfortunately, you can commit conspiracy by talking about and agreeing to commit a crime without actually following through and committing it. Unlike the less serious offense of aiding and abetting, the prosecutor must prove the agreement to commit a crime. It is easier to be convicted of conspiracy under Virginia’s criminal laws than under federal laws. Under federal conspiracy laws, the prosecutor must prove that the person who you conspired with or you took some action to come closer to the crime than just talking about it.
What Types of Conspiracy Charges Could You Face in Virginia?
There are a number of conspiracy crimes that you can be charged with in Virginia. Some of them include the following:
- Conspiracy to commit a felony. You could be found guilty of conspiracy to commit a felony if you conspired with at least one other person to commit a crime within or outside the Commonwealth of Virginia. If the underlying crime you conspired to commit is punishable by death, you would face a Class 3 felony conviction for conspiracy. If the crime is a noncapital felony, the charge would be a Class 5 felony. When the underlying charge is punishable by less than five years in prison, you could be sentenced to one year in prison or up to 12 months in jail and a $500 fine for a conspiracy conviction.
- Conspiracy to commit terrorism. It is illegal to conspire to commit terrorism, whether or not the conspirators were successful in committing the crime. A conviction would be a Class 2 or Class 3 felony—both punishable by up to life in prison.
- Conspiracy to trespass or commit larceny. If you conspire with someone to enter or stay on another person’s property without permission, you could be convicted of a Class 3 misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of a fine of up to $500. Conspiracy to commit larceny involves conspiring, assisting, aiding, or abetting in the act of a larceny—the theft of property. If the goods or merchandise is valued at more than $200, you could be charged with a felony punishable by one to 20 years in prison.
- Conspiracy to commit crimes involving fraud. Many fraud crimes involve more than one person and can result in conspiracy charges as well. Examples of these crimes include credit card fraud, pyramid schemes, and fraudulent use of birth certificates. Some of these charges could be Class 1 misdemeanors, while others are classified as Class 6 felonies. A Class 1 misdemeanor conviction can result in a sentence of up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both. Class 6 felonies are “Wobblers,” meaning that they can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. If you are convicted of a felony charge, you face one to five years in prison and a fine not exceeding $2,500.
Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney Is Important When Facing Conspiracy Charges
You should hire an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are charged with conspiracy. Both a misdemeanor and felony conviction can result in stiff penalties and a permanent criminal record, which can limit many aspects of your life, such as your career, ability to obtain professional licenses, and more. You want to do whatever you can to reduce the negative consequences of these charges. A lawyer can help you build a strong defense that may result in the charges against you being dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge.
If you have been charged with conspiracy or other crime, start an online chat or call our office to schedule your free consultation to learn how the criminal defense team at Greenspun Shapiro PC can help you.