There’s a scene from The Wire where the Barksdale organization is planning their drug business and Stringer angrily says to Slim Charles “Is you taking notes on a criminal conspiracy?” His anger is justified because the State can charge people for an agreement to commit an illegal act. The notes on their plans could basically prove that the men agreed to break the law.
Conspiracy is a separate charge from the actual crime. It makes the agreement itself illegal, in addition to the criminal activity. It’s a crime to plan to commit an actual crime. The penalties for conspiracy are normally the same for the actual crime. So a conspiracy may end up with the defendant that did not actually commit the offense, facing the same amount of jail time as the person that did it. People can also be charged with a crime, and a conspiracy to commit the crime.
We have explained it this way in the past:
The Toronto Raptors won the 2018 NBA Finals. The team’s goal was to win, it can be inferred that everyone- from the water boy to the star players- wanted to win the championship. It doesn’t matter if they played a second in Finals or were even still on the team. If someone worked or played for the Raptors, their overall goal was to win. Now we know that there are different roles within the team, the star player is definitely doingmore to help the team win than the player that was on the summer league team. The summer league player still has the same final goal as the star player though- to win.
Conspiracies can be thought of similarly. Someone in the conspiracy that has a minor role ( the summer league player) is treated the same as the person with a major role in the crimes (the star player). That is because they arguably have a shared overall goal.
What to do?
Conspiracy law can be complicated, so you need an experienced criminal attorney to help you fight the charges. Sometimes a person can be charged with a conspiracy with very little evidence that they actually had an agreement to commit the crime. The bottom line is that being charged with a conspiracy can be a big deal and presents challenges that aren’t always present in other cases.