For almost every crime on the books of the federal criminal code, there is a version of committing a crime without actually doing it. Conspiracy crimes are a way of putting people in prison when no actual crime has been committed.
In the law, a criminal conspiracy involves two elements:
- Two or more people agree to commit a crime
- At least one of those people takes a step toward committing the crime (even if that step is not illegal in and of itself)
Proving federal drug trafficking charges requires proof that a defendant sold or distributed a controlled substance. But a drug trafficking conspiracy involves much less. All prosecutors must prove is that at least two people agreed to sell drugs and that one or both of them did something toward that plan. This could be as simple as making a phone call or asking someone to borrow their car. And whether you were the one who took action or not, you are equally on the hook for the conspiracy.
The sentence can be the same
It’s important to note that federal law punishes drug conspiracies the same way it does actual drug crimes. A conspiracy crime carries the same sentence as the underlying offense. Even if your part in the alleged conspiracy was very minor, you could serve the same amount of time as if you actually committed the crime the conspiracy centered around.
Clearly, you must take conspiracy charges very seriously. Finding the right defense attorney will go a long way to reaching the best possible conclusion and preserving your civil rights.