Conspiracy is what is referred to as an inchoate crime, meaning that the crime is complete simply by taking a step towards the commission of another crime. The three basic inchoate offenses include attempt, solicitation, and conspiracy. The crime that is intended is the target offense.
Inchoate offenses of solicitation and attempt merge with the target offense, meaning that if a defendant is charged with the target offenses they will not also be charged with attempt or solicitation. On the other hand, conspiracy does not merge with the target offense so conspiracy to commit the crime and the crime itself may be charged.
For example, a defendant may have conspired with co-defendants to commit a robbery of a local store. Unlike solicitation or attempt, the defendant can be charged with robbery (target offense) and conspiracy. The California Penal Code § 182 defines conspiracy as an agreement between 2 or more people to commit a crime and one party committing an overt act in furtherance of the agreement to commit a crime. Any party to the conspiracy can commit the overt act for conspiracy to occur, however, the act in furtherance must be performed prior to the commission of the agreed upon target offense.
The punishment for conspiracy is based on the type of conspiracy the defendants have entered into. There is felony conspiracy and wobbler conspiracy, which may be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor. Often the punishment is based on the penalty imposed for the underlying offense.
If a defendant is charged with a felony as well as conspiracy to commit that felony, he/she faces the same penalties imposed for the underlying felony. For example, if you are charged with conspiracy to commit robbery you face between 2 -9 years in a state prison depending on if the robbery was first degree or second degree. A defendant who is charged with 2 or more different felonies, all which are part of the same conspiracy, will face the same penalty as the felony that carries the most severe sentence.
Pursuant to California’s felony murder rules, a co-conspirator can be convicted of first-degree murder if someone dies during the commission of certain felonies. California Penal Code 189 enumerates specific felonies that could expose a co-conspirator to murder charges if someone dies during the commission of the felony/felonies, and they include rape, arson, kidnapping, robbery or carjacking.
If someone dies during the commission of any of these offenses either in furtherance of the offense or as a foreseeable consequence of the offense, a co-conspirator may be charged with first-degree murder. Regardless of the killing being intentional or accidental, if the co-conspirator joined in the conspiracy prior to the death, he/she is exposed to murder charges.
Defending Conspiracy Charges
There are several defenses that exist to a conspiracy charge. It is important to hire an attorney who can assert these defenses on your behalf. Whether you withdrew from the conspiracy effectively or whether there was a mistake of law, you should consult an attorney to discuss your case and your defense. Attorney Rodriguez of The Rodriguez Law Group has the experience and dedication to negotiate or defend your case. Whether you face felony or misdemeanor charges as the underlying offense to a conspiracy charge, Attorney Rodriguez can help. Please contact our office today to discuss your charges.