A conspiracy is criminal charge involving a plot between two or more people to commit crime at a future date, or achieving a legal outcome in an illegal fashion. For example, two inmates who become embroiled in an attempt to assassinate a prison guard on their next shift commit conspiracy. If a contractor and subcontractor knowingly sell faulty products to unknowing homeowners, they are legally selling products, yet illegally conspiring because of the flawed products.
According to US Legal’s research, a conspiracy is also “an agreement or a kind of partnership for criminal purposes in which each member becomes the agent or partner of every other member.” This means that a conspirator faces charges whether they played a key role, or remained in the background. If you have found yourself facing conspiracy charges in Portland, Maine, experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers at our firm will help prepare and persuasively argue your case.
The Law Office of Richard S. Berne takes on cases in both the State and Federal level. Title 17-A MRSA §151, the conspiracy statue against conspiracy in Maine, is a complex document that we will outline for the purpose of helping you understand your charge, as well as why you need representation. When we hear the specifics of your case, we can talk more in-depth about approaches fighting the charge based on your situation. Conspiracy charges are difficult due to the nature of the multiple parties involved and some of the particulars of Maine law.
Why do you need a private defense lawyer for a conspiracy charge?
We all remember the childhood game of telephone, where the first person in a line must relay a message to the last person in line. By the time the message has passed through so many individuals, it’s completely different words and the meaning changes. Similarly, although in a much more serious fashion, conspiracy charges involve numerous parties. An illegal act is typically carried out by numerous conspirators, but two people complicate matters enough.
Once caught, especially when it comes to drugs, murders, or white-collar crime, defendants quickly try to place as much blame as possible on the other parties involved. Whether offered reduced sentences for their testimonies, or trying to escape their own indictment, co-conspirators fail fast when it comes to loyalty. Add more people to the equation, such as lawyers, police officers, investigators, judges, victims, families of victims, significant others, and identifying the guilty party becomes a web of conflated statements that represent different perspectives of the truth based on the biases of the parties involved.
What does my charge even mean? What am I facing?
Maine’s definition of criminal conspiracy lays out offenses and other elements constituting this crime. As mentioned before, conspiracy entails two individuals who colluded to commit a crime or committed a legal act by committing a crime (like paying for a new car with money from a gas station robbery). The offenses become divided out into levels of severity ranging from Class A to Class D, with Class A being the most severe (murder) and carrying the highest punishment.
The classifications are as follows:
- Class A: Murder (classified separately), punishable for a term of not less than twenty-five years and a typical maximum sentence of life imprisonment
- Class A: Serious crimes that are not murder, punishable for a maximum term of thirty years. For class A – Class D offenses, time less than 9 months gets served in a county jail. Any sentence exceeding 9 months takes place in prison.
- Class B: maximum term of ten years.
- Class C: maximum term of five years.
- Class D or E: maximum term of one year and 6 months, respectively.
How can we help with conspiracy charges?
A common defense strategy is for us to suggest the conspiracy was unilateral, or that a defendant was pretending complicity. If you committed no overt act to further the conspiracy, it is more difficult for them to prosecute you. For example, if you and your cousin agree to rob a bank, but you never leave the living room and your cousin robs the bank of their own accord; you have a good argument about not performing an overt act.
Let’s say you drove your cousin to the bank, but didn’t help him and never stepped inside. Technically, you were his ride and committed an overt act to further the conspiracy. He couldn’t have literally got there without you, but let’s say you didn’t know he was robbing the bank. In this case, the prosecution needs more than speech to convict you. Just because you boasted your assistance in some bank robbery doesn’t mean that you actually went about it.
Lastly, one might argue that if the conspiracy was unsuccessful, you receive immunity, or a plea bargain (usually arguing down the class of the charge). If your cousin robs that multinational bank with you knowingly idling in the parking lot and gets caught, you can still be prosecuted. Contact us for more information about understanding your charge. We are assets in this negotiation process and help innocent clients put their voice out there as well.