ARRESTED? INVESTIGATED? ARRESTADO? INVESTIGADO?
“Many a true word is spoken in jest.” That old English saying made originally in an eighteenth century verse could see you end up with a jail sentence in Florida, even if you really did saysomething in jest.
According to Florida law, conspiracy is an agreement between two or more people to commit a criminal offense. The offense which is the object of the conspiracy does not have to be committed in order for defendants to be found guilty of conspiracy. For example, a defendant can be convicted of conspiracy to commit murder even if no murder occurred.
More specifically, the crime of conspiracy according to Florida Statute Section 777.04(3) states that “a person who agrees, conspires, combines, or confederates with another person or persons to commit any offense commits the offense of criminal conspiracy.”
You might think that this means that you could be sitting down with some friends and joke about committing some kind of crime and this could be enough to get arrested. Of course, it is not as simple as
that, or most of us would probably be in jail already! Prosecutors must be able to prove two things in order to have a case for charging someone with criminal conspiracy. These are:
• There must be an agreement made between two or more people to commit a crime e.g. selling drugs or carrying out a burglary.
• There must be an intention to actually carry out the crime.
Theoretically, the last element should prevent anyone who was really just joking about carrying out a crime from being arrested and charged with conspiracy as there was no ‘intention’ to carry out the crime. However, this can be a gray area and there are often times people are actually arrested and charged with conspiracy when it is hard to determine what the actual motives of the people really were.
As in all criminal prosecutions, no conviction can be obtained unless it can be proven ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that the grounds for conviction were justified. That is the basis in which a Miami criminal defense attorney is able to mount a reasonable defense against conspiracy.
Penalties for a conspiracy conviction
If convicted of conspiracy, penalties are determined according to the underlying crime that was intended by the conspiracy to be committed. In other words, if it has been proven that someone conspired to carry out a burglary, the penalties imposed for conspiracy are based on the penalties for burglary itself.
The more serious thecrime was that was intended, the more serious the penalties are for conspiring to commit it.
To give an example, if someone is convicted of conspiring to sell a controlled substance (drugs), like cocaine, the penalty would be one level down from the penalty imposed for actually selling cocaine. Selling cocaine (a 2nd degree felony) is a level 5 offense on the 1 to 10 ranking scale of severity used by the Florida Criminal Punishment Code. That means that conspiringto sell cocaine would be a level 4 offense (one level down).Penalties for this offense include up to five years in a state jail and a $5,000 fine.
Defense against a charge of conspiracy
Remember you are not guilty until you are proven to have actually committed an offense. You can say things when arrested that you might later regret and can say things that make a conviction more likely even if you didn’t commit an offense. It is always strongly recommended to invoke your right to remain silent (Miranda rights) after arrest until you have spoken to your Miami criminal defense attorney, Albert Quirantes, who will develop a strategy to defend you against an unfair or incorrect charge of conspiracy.
There are several defenses against conspiracy which can be used. These include:
• There was no proof that there was an agreement to carry out a crime. Any talk about such a crime was simply idle chatter.
• There was no proof of any intent to carry out a crime. Any talk about committing a crime never got beyond that.
• The agreement, if any, was with an undercover police officer. This makes conspiracy automatically invalid.
• You were present when a crime was being carried out but had no intention in taking part in it.
• You did make an agreement to commit an offense, but later refused to commit it with the alleged conspirators.
• You may have originally made an agreement to commit an offense, but later withdrew from the arrangement and attempted to prevent it.
• You took part in an offense, but neither agreed to committing it beforehand, nor had any intention previously to commit it.
A charge of conspiracy is a serious matter. Conviction can affect you and your family for a long time. Jail time and a criminal conviction can have a severe effect on your finances, meaningthat you lose your job and career prospects and make it hard to recover a normal life later on. It is in your interests to be represented by an effective and experienced Miami criminal defense attorney. You can contact the law office of Albert Quirantes Esq. on 305-644-1800.