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The crime of conspiracy might seem like something that only happens in movies, with large complicated plots conducted by a series of mastermind criminals. In realty, conspiracies are easily formed and often charged under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 274 section 7.
A conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to commit an unlawful act. The actual crime of conspiracy lies in the agreement to do something. One might think that you cannot be charged with a crime that does not actually take place. However, when charged with conspiracy, it doesn’t matter if the planned act was successful or if the conspirators ever took all the steps to carry out that agreement! The district attorney must prove that the agreement actually took place. To do this, the prosecution can use statements and conversations between conspirators or actions taken by the charged parties.
It is important to remember that it is not essential to prove that a physical meeting actually took place. A conspiracy can be inferred if the prosecution shows that two people were working together towards the illegal act. Some illegal acts are in fact complicated plots with several members contributing in different ways. A person can be part of that conspiracy even if they do not have knowledge of the entire plan, it is only necessary that the person is aware of the objective of the plan and that the person actively participated.
Is it possible to leave a conspiracy once you’ve entered into the agreement? Generally, once a conspiracy is complete, one cannot withdraw because the agreement has already been made. However, because each conspirator is responsible for all foreseeable crimes committed in furtherance of that conspiracy, withdrawal may be a defense to those crimes. In the case of withdrawal, the defendant must give notice to all co-conspirators that he or she is abandoning the plan and this notice must be given in time to stop the plan from happening.
Conspiracies come in all shapes and sizes. WhileHollywoodportrays conspiracies as elaborate heists or murder plots, the actual crime lies in the agreement of a criminal act.