If you were asked to define the word “conspiracy” you would probably be fairly comfortable doing so. It is one of those words that is used frequently enough that it seems easy to explain. Most of us, after all, have a favorite conspiracy theory from history. Being able to explain your favorite conspiracy theory, however, isn’t the same as explaining what it means to be accused of conspiracy to commit a criminal offense. The Omaha criminal lawyers discuss what the prosecution must prove to convict you of conspiracy in Nebraska.
Nebraska Conspiracy Law
In the United States, our system of government allows for both a federal criminal justice system and separate criminal justice systems within the individual states. Therefore, you could be charged with violating a criminal statute at the state, or the national level, or even both. If you are charged with conspiracy by the State of Nebraska, you will be charged with violating Nebraska Revised Statute Section 28-202 which reads as follows:
(1) A person shall be guilty of criminal conspiracy if, with intent to promote or facilitate the commission of a felony:
(a) He agrees with one or more persons that they or one or more of them shall engage in or solicit the conduct or shall cause or solicit the result specified by the definition of the offense; and
(b) He or another person with whom he conspired commits an overt act in pursuance of the conspiracy.
(2) If a person knows that one with whom he conspires to commit a crime has conspired with another person or persons to commit the same crime, he is guilty of conspiring to commit such crime with such other person or persons whether or not he knows their identity.
(3) If a person conspires to commit a number of crimes, he is guilty of only one conspiracy so long as such multiple crimes are the object of the same agreement or continuous conspiratorial relationship.
(4) Conspiracy is a crime of the same class as the most serious offense which is an object of the conspiracy, except that conspiracy to commit a Class I felony is a Class II felony.
Federal Conspiracy Law
If you are charged with conspiracy by the federal government, your prosecution will be governed by 18 U.S. Code § 371, which reads as follows:
If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
The Elements of Conspiracy
Whether you are being prosecuted by the State of Nebraska or the United States, the core elements of the offense of conspiracy are the same:
- An agreement between two or more people to commit a criminal offense
- An overt act in furtherance of that agreement
There are no hard and fast rules about what constitutes an agreement nor an overt act. As is usually the case in a criminal prosecution, each case involves a unique set of facts and circumstances. The prosecution will argue that those facts do constitute the elements of conspiracy and the defense will argue that they do not.
By way of illustration, imagine that you and your friend Oscar are sitting around one day and you start talking about how easy it would be to rob the corner store. The more you talk, the more concrete the ide becomes. Eventually, you both agree to pull off the robbery and you shake hands on the deal. You have the first element of conspiracy once you have made an agreement. So far, however, no conspiracy exists because the second element is missing. Imagine further that the next day you go out and purchase two black ski masks to wear during the robbery. Now you have the second element – an overt act in furtherance of the agreement. But wait, what if your family was leaving on a pre-planned vacation to a ski resort next week…is it still so clear that the purchase of the ski masks constitutes the overt act necessary for the second element? Ask you can see, criminal cases are rarely simple. That is why you should always consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately if you have been charged with a criminal offense.
Contact the Omaha Criminal Lawyers at Petersen Law Office
If you have been charged with conspiracy to commit a criminal offense by the State of Nebraska or the United States, consult with an experienced Nebraska criminal defense lawyer at Petersen Law Office as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. In Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case.