Conspiracy: A Complex and Often Misunderstood Crime in Oklahoma
Conspiracy is one of the most serious and complex crimes that anyone can be charged with in Oklahoma. It is also one of the most misunderstood crimes.
Typically, conspiracy charges involve agreements between people to commit crimes like robbery, homicide, or some sort of illegal drug activity. But it can actually include many different crimes.
In Oklahoma law, conspiracy is broadly defined. It is any agreement between two or more people to intentionally commit any kind of crime. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 421
The definition is simple, but the crime is anything but simple. This definition is broad enough to include a multitude of situations.
An agreement implies plotting, and plotting implies action. Many people thing that if you just have an agreement or a plot hatched — but have not actually committed the crime that is the subject of the agreement — that you cannot be convicted of conspiracy. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Even if the subject crime has not been committed yet, if you or any of your co-conspirators took any overt action in furtherance of the crime, you can be convicted. For example, if the subject of the conspiracy is to break into a house and steal, merely buying the tools to break into the house is enough for a conspiracy conviction, even if the house is never broken into.
Not only can you be found guilty of the conspiracy itself, you can also be held responsible for all crimes committed as a part of it. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 421
Many Types of Conspiracy
Conspiracy can include all sorts of agreements to do illegal things, such as cheating or defrauding a person of their property, bringing or maintaining a false or baseless charge or lawsuit against someone, or acts that are harmful to public health, morals or trade or commerce.
Finally, it can also include agreements between people to obstruct justice. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 421
Corporate actions where board members shred incriminating documents during a lawsuit, Ponzi schemes and the like are examples as well.
One of the most serious kinds of conspiracy involves the injuring or killing of people in public places, buildings and schools. If the conspirators’ plan is to bomb a building in Oklahoma or commit another crime against the peace of the state by two or more people who live outside of Oklahoma, the crime is chargeable as a felony and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 422
Any conspiracy against the state of Oklahoma — such as any offense against a county, school district or city — is a felony punishable by a fine of up to $25,000, a prison term of up to 10 years, or both. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 424
Proof Can Be Complex
In order to secure a conviction of conspiracy, the prosecution must prove every element of the crime. If any element is not proven, there is no conviction.
The prosecution must show:
- an agreement with at least one other person to intentionally commit a crime;
- that you were a party to the agreement, either at the time the agreement was made or knowingly entered the agreement later; and
- that you took action in furtherance of the commission of the crime.
This must be an overt act, not the conspiracy itself. And the act must be substantial and must further the commission of the underlying crime. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 423
Penalties Are Harsh
Conspiracy is chargeable as a misdemeanor. However, if the crime being plotted is a felony, the conspiracy is charged as a felony as well. It is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, up to 10 years in prison, or both.
There are defenses available to you if you are being charged with conspiracy. An experienced criminal defense attorney can mean the difference between prison and freedom.
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