Conspiracy charges can be some of the most complex types of criminal charges to understand. While most people assume that they must either attempt or actually commit a crime in order to face criminal charges, conspiracy laws demonstrate that this is not the case. For a conspiracy to be charged in Maryland, all that is necessary is that you planned with one or more persons to commit a crime or achieve some unlawful purpose or end. Even if the plan is not carried out, you can still be charged with conspiracy.
Conspiracy charges can come with extremely harsh penalties depending on the crime you are charged with conspiring to commit. It is vital that you take these charges seriously and get in contact with an experienced Maryland conspiracy charges defense lawyer like those at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice to make sure your rights are protected and your side of the story is heard. For a free consultation, call our office today at (410) 694-7291.
How Conspiracy is Defined Under Maryland Law
The definition of a criminal conspiracy in Maryland is very broad. It can include any situation where two or more people enter into an agreement to accomplish a criminal or unlawful purpose. It can be charged when you merely discuss a plan to commit a crime, even if you do not take any actual steps toward committing it. For example, if you and your girlfriend sit down and hatch out a plan to kidnap her niece, and this conversation is overheard or caught on tape, this is a considered a conspiracy even if you never act in any way on the plan.
In Maryland, all that is required for a conspiracy to exist is that there is a “meeting of the minds” between you and your co-conspirators; that is, you all must actually intend to follow through on this plan at the time the conspiracy is made. If you were only kidding about kidnapping the niece and thought that your girlfriend was too, but she was actually serious, you cannot be charged with a conspiracy to kidnap because there was no “meeting of the minds” between you and your girlfriend. You were not on the same page.
Similarly, conspiracies cannot be manufactured by undercover police officers. Conspiracy cannot be charged where an officer pretends to be a cocaine distributor and you agree to sell cocaine on their behalf. There was no meeting of the minds. Note, however, that you do not necessarily need to know every detail of the plan or every person involved to be part of a conspiracy. If you are selling drugs on behalf of a distributer who bought them from a supplier you never met, you can still all be considered a part of the same conspiracy.
Penalties for Conspiracy Under Maryland Law
Technically, the crime of conspiracy is always charged as a misdemeanor in the state of Maryland. Since misdemeanors are usually less serious charges than felonies and are usually subject to less severe penalties, you might think that conspiracy is a relatively minor charge. However, in terms of the punishments you can face, this is far from the case.
The fact that conspiracy is classified as a misdemeanor has no bearing on the types of penalties you can face with this charge. In fact, there are no set penalties for the charge of conspiracy at all. Rather, the penalties you face depend on the underlying crime you are accuse of conspiring to commit. The only rule is that the penalties for conspiracy to commit a crime cannot exceed the maximum penalties for actually committing the crime. If you are charged with conspiring to commit something as serious as homicide, then, you can face whatever penalties you might have faced had you actually killed someone.
Common Types of Conspiracies Charged in Maryland
A conspiracy can be charged for essentially any crime under the Maryland code. However, certain crimes are more commonly a part of conspiracies than others. Our veteran Maryland conspiracy crimes team at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice are experienced defending against virtually every type of conspiracy charge. Below, however, we take you through some of the common situations in which you might find yourself charged with conspiracy.
By the far the most often charged conspiracy is a conspiracy to distribute drugs. The drug distribution chain involves multiple links, from production, to shipment, to packaging, to the actual sale. Whichever stage of this process you take part in, you are likely to be able to be charged with a conspiracy to distribute, so long as you are aware that the ultimate plan is to sell the drugs to consumers.
Conspiracy to Commit Theft, Robbery, or Burglary
While these crimes can be committed alone, thefts, robberies, and burglaries often involve a group of people working together to pull off a heist. For example, in a bank robbery, someone might intend to serve only as a lookout and getaway driver and not take part in the actual holdup. This person can still be charged as part of a conspiracy to commit robbery.
White Collar Conspiracies
Conspiracy is commonly used to prosecute white collar crimes like embezzlement. For example, if several corporate officers come up with a plan to steal from the company’s clients, they can be charged with conspiracy even if the embezzlement is never actually undertaken.
If You Are Facing Conspiracy Charges in Maryland, Call Our Seasoned Criminal Defense Attorneys Today
Conspiracy charges may seem unjust and ridiculous to some, since they are charges for crimes that you never actually followed through on and committed. However, the government takes these charges seriously and they can be used as a blunt tool to impose very harsh punishments on people who did nothing but discuss the potential for committing a crime. If you are charged with a conspiracy, having an experienced Maryland conspiracy charge defense attorney like those at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice on your team can be the difference between a dismissal and spending years of your life behind bars. For a free and confidential consultation, call us today at (410) 694-7291.