Conspiracy is a strange a crime where one is guilty simply by manifesting an agreement with another to commit an unlawful act. It does not matter what the unlawful act is. It could be an agreement between you and your buddy to break into your neighbors home and steal his lamp. The fact that you and your friend talked about, planned, and agreed to do such an act makes you guilty of conspiracy. With that example I have pretty much given you the main components to the crime of conspiracy. These components are: 2 or more persons; who agree to work together; to commit some unlawful act; and an overt act in furtherance of committing that unlawful act. (picture taken by Sahaja Meditation)
Massachusetts has made it easier for one to be convicted of conspiracy by dispensing with the overt act requirement. By general definition, a single person in the group had to commit an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy in order for him and the other members of the conspiracy to be found guilty of conspiracy. For example lets say that a group of 4 have decided to burn down the local library because the despise the dewey decimal system. They have planned and talked about it for months but it has not gone any further than that. Then one afternoon one of the members goes to the store and buys a shopping cart full of lighter fluid and a box of matches. That act of going to the store and buying those items (which will obviously be used to burn the library down) is an act committed in furtherance of the conspiracy (an overt act), and all the members are now guilty of said conspiracy. However, as mentioned above, Massachusetts has done away with this overt act requirement. So if the example above took place in Massachusetts the act of the 4 members talking, planning, and agreeing with each other about burning down the library will make them guilty of the conspiracy to do that crime. In Massachusetts one member does not need to buy the arson kit (the overt act) in order for him and the others to be found guilty.
It is important to note that after you agree with someone else to commit a certain crime, you are automatically guilty of conspiracy to commit said crime, and there is NO way you can withdrawal from the conspiracy. Once you consent you condemn. Using the above example, lets say one of the members decides they do not want to participate in the burning of the library because they have changed their minds. They either tell the others they don’t want any part in this, don’t show up to the burning, or inform the local authorities about the plan. In Massachusetts that person would still be found guilty of the conspiracy to commit arson because they were guilty the moment they agreed to or helped plan the crime. It does not matter what actions that person took after they agreed; they would still be found guilty of the conspiracy. So your best defense is to not agree or plan with others to commit a crime because once you have done so, you have sealed your fate.
You must understand that the crime of conspiracy is totally separate from the crime the conspirators plan to commit. In the above example the 4 members would be guilty of conspiracy to commit arson, and if they actually burned down the library they would be guilty of the crime of arson. They are 2 separate crimes, meaning they do not have to carry out the planned crime of burning the library in order to be found guilty of conspiracy to commit arson. It is a unique crime and one that many are probably unknowingly guilty of right now. Remember, just because you have not committed the agreed upon crime does not mean you are innocent, you are still guilty of another crime, the crime of conspiracy. Authored by Andrew Kussmal