Responding to conspiracy charges can be a complex task, as they involve more than one defendant. Often, there is also no criminal behavior other than the planning of an illegal act.
If you have been charged with conspiring to commit a crime, you should have a knowledgeable Fulton County conspiracy lawyer in your corner. A seasoned criminal attorney could help protect your rights and fight for your future.
Prosecutors often use conspiracy charges to help boost their cases, in hopes to flip accused individuals against one another. By cooperating, defendants may have their charges reduced, receive lighter sentences, or have charges dropped entirely. In exchange, the prosecution may obtain evidence and testimony vital to convicting the other defendants. Working with conspiracy attorneys familiar with the law and the local criminal system in Fulton County may enable those accused to negotiate the best deals for their situations.
Conspiracy is a unique offense because those charged do not have to complete the planned crime to hear a guilty verdict. The Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 16-4-8 states a conspiracy occurs when two or more people plot to commit an unlawful act, and one or more of those individuals engages in some overt step toward accomplishing the crime. Examples of concrete action in furthering a crime might be securing a getaway car or sourcing materials to build an explosive.
The agreement to engage in illegal activity does not have to satisfy all elements of an enforceable contract. Instead, all that is necessary is an implied understanding among the participants. A written document is not required, and a person does not need to be present at the time of the unlawful event. If they participated in the planning and discussions, they might be liable for other’s actions that further or complete the crime.
With such a low bar, individuals in the wrong place at the wrong time can get caught up in illegal activity. Hiring a conspiracy attorney experienced in this area as soon as possible may allow suspects in Fulton County to effectively present their version of the events and reduce the severity of any penalties.
How long the accused might spend incarcerated or how much they may pay in fines if convicted depends on whether the planned crime is a felony or misdemeanor. O.C.G.A § 16-4-8 establishes the following penalties for conspiracy to commit a felony:
For those accused of conspiring to commit a misdemeanor, O.C.G.A. § 17-10-3 imposes no more than one year in jail and fines of no more than $1000. If the underlying crime is punishable by death or life imprisonment, the potential prison term is one to ten years. Representation in Fulton County by a seasoned conspiracy lawyer may be an individual’s best chance to submit a hard-hitting defense that minimizes or eliminates penalties.
Effective defense counsel may raise as many objections to the state’s case as fits the circumstances. Some defenses challenge the constitutionality of the investigation and the proceedings, and some focus directly on the evidence offered to prove a conspiracy occurred. For example, defendants may argue the following points:
O.C.G.A. § 16-10-9 allows those accused to avoid punishment if they establish they exited the conspiracy before the occurrence of any overt act in furtherance of the illegal conduct. For example, if a defendant removes themselves from any additional planning and informs the police of the plot, it may negate their involvement and lead to an acquittal or dismissal of charges.
There are numerous moving pieces in a conspiracy case. Working with an experienced Fulton County conspiracy lawyer may best position you to negotiate with prosecutors, assert your rights, and mitigate the negative effects on your future. Before talking to anyone else, especially the authorities, call the firm to represent you.