What is Federal Conspiracy and What are the Penalties?

Conspiracy takes place when two or more people agree to commit a criminal act. Cases in federal court typically include conspiracy charges related to identity fraud, wire fraud, or internet fraud, in addition to the charges associated with the manufacturing, distribution, and sale of illegal substances such as drugs. 


A federal conspiracy charge is serious and can have severe penalties. If you have been accused of federal conspiracy, you must contact an experienced federal defense lawyer immediately. Attorney Ben Stechschulte is a criminal defense attorney that’s board-certified and a former criminal prosecutor, a distinction that only 2% of all Florida attorneys have achieved. 



What Is Federal Conspiracy? 


It’s a crime to conspire to defraud the United States; however, the offense is not committed unless one or more of the co-conspirators acts in a way to advance the conspiracy. Even if either of the two (or more) people never committed a crime that was planned, being a part of the plan is still a conspiracy. Taking steps to achieve that crime may become the criminal act of federal conspiracy. 


What Are Examples of Federal Conspiracy Charges? 


In addition to those named above, the U.S. Code includes numerous additional federal conspiracy charges, such as: 


  • Impeding or injuring an officer  
  • Drug trafficking or other drug offenses  
  • Defrauding the government concerning claims 
  • Destroying a marine vessel to defraud an insurance company 
  • Sedition 
  • Kidnapping 
  • Impeding the free exercise of rights  
  • Aiding enemy aliens or prisoners of war  
  • Injuring someone or property in a foreign country while under U.S. jurisdiction  
  • Interfering with armed forces during wartime  
  • Destruction or interfering with the production of war material  


Learn More > What are Federal Conspiracy Charges? 


What Are the Penalties for Federal Conspiracy? 


Depending on the specific crime that is the subject of the conspiracy, a prison sentence of no more than five years is the penalty for federal conspiracy. Additionally, the court may impose a fine. 


It’s important to note that particular conspiracy statutes indicate a penalty, while others state that the penalty is equal for conspiracy as the actual crime being committed. For example, conspiring to commit drug trafficking has the same sentence as drug trafficking.  


What Are Your Rights if You’re Charged with Federal Conspiracy? 


You have the right to remain silent. You should always ask for a lawyer before giving any statement. You also have the right to a fair trial by a jury of peers. Additionally, you have the right to call witnesses on your behalf and confront witnesses who testify against you.  


Federal prosecutors will typically build a case against lower-level conspirators to incriminate the top of the criminal organization. They may seek out the information you have to help their case. You would likely be given a plea deal in exchange for your testimony and information. Your attorney would negotiate the conditions of your agreement with the prosecutor.  


Defenses & Legal Representation 


The attorneys at Stechschulte Nell have extensive experience with clients who have been charged with federal conspiracy, and we have established specific possible defenses to these charges:   


  • There was no conspiracy committed. This is where we argue that you didn’t know what the other person was doing, and you never conspired with them.
  • There was a conspiracy, but you didn’t have a part in it. Here we argue that you had acquaintances taking part in illegal activities that you may have known about, but this doesn’t mean you took any explicit act that would raise your behavior to that of a co-conspirator.
  • You had a role in the criminal activity but were unaware that your actions were illegal. Common in drug-related conspiracy cases, this often typically involves drug distribution. If you hand a package to someone without knowing what’s in the package, you can’t be charged with conspiracy.
  • You were a conspirator, but not for the crime you were charged with. For example, if you conspired to sell drugs, but you didn’t know or were involved with the manufacture of the drugs, we would use this as a defense. 


Learn More > How Long is the Statute of Limitations for Federal Crimes?  


Contact a Skilled Federal Defense Attorney in Tampa Bay 


Federal prosecutors charge innocent and guilty people with conspiracy, and if you face these serious charges, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney with substantial experience in federal court.  


Contact Stechschulte Nell today at 813-280-1244 for a case review.  

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