A criminal conspiracy takes place when two or more people get together and plan to carry out a course of conduct which will necessarily involve the commission of an offence. In other words, more than one person agrees to do something which will involve committing a crime.
A specific action someone plans or carries out does not have to be a crime itself to be considered part of a criminal conspiracy, it only need to play some role in an overall plan that will involve a crime. For example, buying ski masks is not a crime, but if they are being bought as part of a plan to rob a bank, the people buying the masks could still be charged with conspiracy to commit bank robbery.
The crime of conspiracy can be charged whether or not the plan is ever actually carried out, and whether or not the crime is ever committed. The offence depends on the agreement to commit specific actions as part of a plan that involves a crime, rather than any part of the plan actually being carried out.
So, if two people plan to rob a bank and they go to buy ski masks to wear during the robbery, they can be charged with conspiracy to commit bank robbery, even if they never actually rob the bank or even attempt to rob the bank.
Furthermore, persons who help to plan a crime, but do not participate in the actual criminal act can be given the same punishment as the person who carried out the crime itself.
This simply means that just as it is a criminal offence to rob, murder or supply controlled drugs, so it is a criminal offence for two or more persons to agree with one another to commit that offence. The essence of the offence of conspiracy is the agreement.
Conspiracy charges are very serious, with the potential for sentences of up to life imprisonment on conviction, so it is essential to have the right legal support at every stage of interview, investigation and prosecution to ensure no critical detail or angle or defence is missed.
If you have been arrested, are due to be interviewed by police or have been charged with a conspiracy offence, we can offer specialist, expert representation to give you the best possible defence.
Call 07535 215140 at any time 24/7 for urgent police station representation
Common questions about criminal conspiracies
What is a conspiracy charge?
A conspiracy charge is when a crime involving two or more people is carried out to achieve a common outcome. It does not matter whether the crime was completed, as long as the offenders planned out the crime and started to take action to carry out that plan, they can be charged with conspiracy.
Even if someone were to agree to commit a crime and repent before the crime took place, were unable to carry out the crime due to a lack of opportunity, or failed to commit the crime, they would still be considered guilty of the offence.
What is conspiracy in law?
Conspiracy law in the UK states that the following elements must be present for a criminal charge to be brought:
- An agreement between multiple individuals or organisations to carry out an unlawful task
- Intent on behalf of the involved parties to actually carry out and accomplish the unlawful task
There is also a third requirement in some jurisdictions that at least one of the conspirators must have acted to further the efforts of the conspiracy.
What are some examples of conspiracy in law?
A conspiracy charge can be brought for conspiring to commit any criminal act. Some common examples of criminal conspiracy are:
- Conspiracy to commit armed robbery – when two or more people plan to steal using, or threatening to use, a weapon
- Conspiracy to murder – when two or more people agree to a course of action that will result in the unlawful killing of another person
- Conspiracy to kidnap – when two or more people plan to kidnap another person or persons
- Conspiracy to supply drugs – where two or more people form an agreement to sell, transfer, pass or distribute drugs to other people
What are the penalties for criminal conspiracy?
The penalties on conviction for taking part in a criminal conspiracy will depend on the type of crime involved and a number of other factors, including:
- The role an individual plays in the conspiracy e.g. whether they played a minor, subordinate role in carrying out someone else’s plan or whether they were a key player involved in planning the crime
- The scale of the offence e.g. the class, quantity and value of any drugs involved in a conspiracy to supply drugs offence
- The length of time over which any offences took place
- How aware you were that you were involved in a criminal conspiracy
- Whether you plead guilty and, if so, at which stage of proceedings
- If you were pressured, intimidated or coerced into taking part in the conspiracy
- Any previous convictions on your record
How can the police prove a conspiracy?
Whilst the punishment for such offences is serious, conspiracy still remains one of the most difficult cases to prove by the Prosecution.
A successful prosecution will depend on various factors, possibly including phone records, witness testimony, physical evidence such as finger prints and DNA, and more.
The prosecution will need to prove that you carried out a specific role connected to the conspiracy and that you were aware that the course of action you took part in or planned to take part in would further the criminal conspiracy.
The investigative stage itself within the police station can take many months and sometimes years before the case proceeds to charge and we can assist in every step of the case from initial arrest right through to appearance at the Crown Court.
Why have the police taken my mobile telephone in a conspiracy case?
If you are arrested by police or taken into police custody, they will usually take your mobile phone from you. Mobile phone data is often critical to conspiracy prosecutions, so it is essential to know your rights.
If you are arrested or taken into police custody, you should verbally state that you do not consent to a search of your phone or other mobile devices seized. The police (or other authorities) will generally need a warrant to search your device without your consent (except in certain exceptional circumstances).
If police unlawfully search your mobile phone, any evidence recovered can potentially be suppressed, meaning it cannot be used as part of any prosecution against you.
What is meant by telephone attribution in a conspiracy case?
Where police are relying on mobile data, such as call records, texts or WhatsApp messages to show that someone has taken part in a criminal conspiracy, they need to be able to identify who both the sender and receiver of a call or text are.
Where someone had their phone on them when they were arrested, it may be relatively straightforward to show that they were the person sending and receiving calls, texts or other messages on that device.
However, where a phone was recovered from a crime scene or there is the need to establish the identify of a person receiving calls or messages from a certain device, it can be more challenging.
In such cases, attribution might depend on a number of factors, such as whether calls from a certain device were also made to a suspect’s relatives, place of work or other people connected to them, suggesting the phone likely belonged to the suspect.
Showing that a particular device or phone number did not belong to a suspect, or introducing reasonable doubt as to this fact, can often be critical to any defence against conspiracy charges.
What is cell site analysis in a conspiracy?
Mobile phones work by sending signals to a local receiver/transmitter known as a cell site, which connect to other cell sites to create an overall network. These cells sites are also sometimes referred to as cell towers, Base Transceiver Stations and mobile phone masts.
When you make a call on a mobile device, it will connect to the nearest cell site and this will be logged. Police and other authorities can therefore use expert ‘cell site analysis’ to show which area a mobile was in when a particular call was made.
This can often be critical to a conspiracy prosecution as it can show that a suspect was in a particular area at a time when a particular action involved in a criminal conspiracy was known to be taking place.
Will I get remanded for conspiracy?
It is possible that you will be put on remand and sent to prison or a secure centre for young people to await trial if you are charged with a conspiracy offence.
Whether or not you are put on remand will depend on various factors, including:
- The seriousness of the crime you are charged with
- Any previous convictions you have
- If the police believe you may not attend your court hearing
- If the police believe you may commit another crime if released on bail
- If you have been given bail before and not stuck to the terms
If I am charged with conspiracy will I get bail?
As mentioned above, many factors will affect whether you are bailed following charges for a conspiracy offence. Our specialist criminal conspiracy defence solicitors have a strong track record of successfully securing bail for our clients, so can give you the best chance of avoiding remand where you are charged with an offence.
How can Conspiracy Solicitors help defend against conspiracy charges?
Conspiracy cases are often complex legally, factually and in relation to the amount of documentation produced. We are experienced in marshalling large volumes of material and will often make papers available to our clients in electronic format.
Here, at Conspiracy Solicitors, our team has a vast wealth of experience in dealing with conspiracy cases, including, conspiracy to steal, conspiracy to burgle, conspiracy to rob, conspiracy to supply controlled drugs, conspiracy to distribute child pornography and conspiracy to murder.
All conspiracy cases are allocated to a senior solicitor to supervise. Usually that solicitor will work actively on the case on a daily basis, assisted by other staff who will be carrying out specific tasks requested by the supervising solicitor. This ensures that the case is thoroughly prepared for trial, whether it be dealt with by our own in-house Counsel or allocated to one of our recognised chambers.
How to secure representation by our specialist criminal conspiracy defence lawyers
Have you been granted a Representation Order to cover the cost of your legal defence? If not, you can simply get in touch and we will be happy to discuss representing you.
If you have already been represented by another law firm using Legal Aid funding, you may be able to transfer your case to us and keep your Legal Aid funding, depending on the circumstances.
Take a look at our guide to transferring your case to Conspiracy Solicitors to find out more.
Contact our specialist criminal conspiracy solicitors now
To get in touch with our team of expert criminal defence solicitors and dedicated criminal conspiracy defence lawyers, you can:
Call 07535 215140 at any time 24/7 for urgent police station representation