A federal conspiracy charge [18 U.S.C. § 371] involves two or more persons who allegedly agree to commit a federal crime and at least one of the persons takes some action to advance the conspiracy. The government need not demonstrate that there is a documented agreement between the parties involved – a federal conspiracy charge may result in the case of persons simply working together in the act of committing a federal crime. The government considers the planning and intent to commit a federal crime at least (and sometimes more) reprehensible than the criminal offenses themselves.
Federal conspiracy offenses may include:
- Two or more persons conspiring to commit any offense against the United States,
- Two or more persons attempting to defraud the United States [18 U.S.C. § 371],
- [21 U.S.C. § 846] Conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, or possess with intent to distribute controlled substances.
- [18 U.S.C. § 1951] Robbery of interstate commerce contains conspiracy provisions – thus both committing robbery as well as conspiring to commit interstate robbery if a federal offense.
Sometimes it is the case that a person may be caught up in a conspiracy charge and have never actually met the other person or persons involved in person. As well, someone may be charged with conspiracy for a very minor role in the alleged offense, e.g. a person could potentially have full mandatory minimum sentencing for a very large quantity of drugs while only have a very small role in the alleged intent to manufacture or distribute the drugs.