Video: What constitutes federal conspiracy?

A conspiracy, when you’re in law school, is taught as any enterprise where two or more people agree to break the law. State jurisdictions all have conspiracy statutes, but the federal system, really, their bread and butter is conspiracy offenses.

Take a securities fraud. Me and a group of folks are going to go out and sell fake gas leases that don’t exist…If I need someone who can create papers and documents and marketing materials to make it look like there’s an actual gas lease, me and that person may agree, “Okay, I’ll get the customer to buy off and you go and make these cool marketing materials.”

The law could just charge us for one discreet deception of one investor or they could say, “Well, Steve and this other person were in a conspiracy over a period of time and, pursuant to that agreement, every action can be prosecuted.” Under the guidelines that I was referring to before, the amount of money taken can all be aggregated and using a longer time frame and adding in the actions of more than one person really, really racks up the sentence and really drives the guidelines up.

A conspiracy charge is a favorite tool of federal prosecutors because it allows them to include and present evidence they otherwise would not be able to. A federal conspiracy occurs when two or more people collude to commit a criminal offense. The statute of limitations for a conspiracy is generally five years from the last bad act. Corporations can become criminally liable for a conspiracy if two of its officers, employees, or agents are part of the conspiracy.

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