A conspiracy exists when two or more people enter into an agreement with one another to accomplish a criminal or unlawful purpose or to accomplish a lawful purpose by criminal or unlawful means. A conspiracy to commit a crime is, by itself, a separate criminal offense in the State of Maryland. Conspiracy is what is known as a common law crime and it is a misdemeanor criminal offense.
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When is a Conspiracy Formed?
A conspiracy is formed when the parties enter into an illegal scheme or agreement with one another. It does not matter whether the parties completed the illegal act; it does not matter whether the agreement achieved the purpose for which the conspiracy was formed; it does not matter whether the parties actually attempted to do the act; and, it does not matter whether the parties incited others to do the act. Simply put, a conspiracy is formed the moment an agreement is made between the parties to commit a crime or achieve a lawful objective by criminal means.
What is an Agreement?
To show that an agreement existed between the parties, the State must only prove that there was a “meeting of the minds” between the parties with regard to the conspiracy. It is not necessary that the State prove that the parties had a formal agreement in place, such as a written contract. To show a meeting of the minds, the State must prove that: (1) the parties to the conspiracy gave the matter sufficient thought, however brief or impulsive, to appreciate or articulate the purpose of the conspiracy or to achieve a lawful purpose by criminal or unlawful means; and (2) the parties understood and agreed, by word or gesture, to cooperate to achieve this purpose. Such agreement may be shown by circumstantial evidence from which an inference of common design can be drawn. Mere similarity of conduct among various persons, however, does not, by itself, establish a conspiracy.
Conspiracy is One Criminal Offense
A conspiracy is one criminal offense regardless of the number of violations of the law which may have been the object of the conspiracy. In Mason v. State, 302 Md. 434 (1985), the Court held that a Defendant who distributes multiple controlled dangerous substances in accordance with a single unlawful agreement commits but one crime: common law conspiracy. Furthermore, a Defendant may not be convicted of more than one conspiracy simply because the conspirators had multiple objectives.
Towson, MD Criminal Defense Attorney
Contact our office today to schedule a consultation with an experienced Towson, MD criminal defense attorney if you have been charged with conspiracy to commit a crime. During your consultation, you will meet with our attorney to discuss the facts of your case, the strength of the State’s case, possible defenses, and ways to avoid a conviction altogether or minimize the consequences of a possible conviction.