Can You Face Conspiracy Charges in Nevada Even If You Don’t Commit a Crime?
In Las Vegas, the criminal offense of conspiracy may be charged under either Nevada state law or federal law. In both cases, a conspiracy charge alleges an agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime. State law requires only the agreement and is broader than federal laws. But both Nevada and federal conspiracy laws allow a person to be charged with conspiracy even if that individual does not commit the crime that was the subject of the agreement.
State of Nevada Conspiracy Offense
When two or more individuals agree to commit any crime in Nevada, those persons may be charged with conspiracy as a separate offense, in addition to any other charges relating to the conduct. A conspiracy charge also may result if two or more people agree to other types of conduct, including to:
- Falsely and maliciously cause another person to be arrested or investigated for a crime
- Falsely institute any action or proceeding
- Cheat or defraud another person out of property by unlawful or fraudulent means
- Prevent another person from exercising a lawful trade or performing any other lawful act, using force, threats, or intimidation
- Commit an act injurious to the public health or for corruption of public justice or administration of the law
- Accomplish any illegal purpose or accomplish a lawful purpose by unlawful means
Conspiracy is a serious crime in Nevada. It is either a category B felony or a gross demeanor, depending on the crime that was the subject of the agreement. The potential penalties for conspiracy include both prison time and a fine, which are in addition to the penalties for any other charged offenses.
If you face a conspiracy charge in Nevada, it is essential to have an experienced criminal defense attorney defend you against the charge.
Important Facts to Know About the Nevada Crime of Conspiracy
A conspiracy charge can be hard to understand for a number of reasons. First, you can be charged with conspiracy under Nevada law even if you do not commit any other crime. Solely the fact that you make an agreement with another person to commit a crime — or agree to any of the other types of actions specified in the law — constitutes commission of the crime of conspiracy. However, conspiracy often is charged in addition to other offenses.
One of the most important facts to know about a Nevada conspiracy offense is that the individuals agreeing to commit the unlawful act do not need to take any action or steps toward committing the agreed-upon crime. The agreement itself, if proven, is a violation of the criminal statute. Nevada law is different from federal conspiracy laws is that regard. Federal conspiracy laws do require that one of the individuals making the agreement take action toward commission of the illegal conduct.
Law enforcement is not required to charge everyone involved in a conspiracy. A single individual may be charged. In addition, the agreement between the individuals can be verbal or written. It can be proven in court by circumstantial evidence, even if there is no written or other physical evidence of the agreement itself.
If two people agree to commit a crime and then decide not to carry out the plan, they can still be charged with conspiracy. Making the agreement is the only requirement necessary for a violation of the Nevada conspiracy law to occur. But there does have to be an agreement — simply discussing a crime, without making an agreement, does not constitute conspiracy.
However, merely being present when others agree to commit a crime is not sufficient to constitute conspiracy. Only the persons who are part of the agreement are in violation of the law. Similarly, simply knowing of or hearing about a conspiracy to commit a crime does not constitute a violation of the conspiracy law.
Defending Against a Nevada Conspiracy Charge
For a prosecutor to prove a conspiracy charge, existence of the agreement must be shown beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the same standard that applies to all crimes. The vague nature of the offense provides an experienced criminal defense attorney with several different strategies for attacking the charge.
The issue of evidence is critical. If the prosecutor uses circumstantial evidence, which happens in many conspiracy cases, proving the agreement is difficult at best. In addition, the defense attorney may be able to attack evidence as illegally obtained, in which case the evidence is inadmissible. Without that evidence, the prosecutor may be unable to prove the case.
Intent is an issue in a conspiracy case as well. The prosecutor must be able to demonstrate the existence of the intent to commit a crime when the agreement was made. A defense attorney may also be able to attack the charge on this basis.
The best strategies and defense for a particular case depend entirely on all the facts and evidence relating to the charge. An experienced criminal defense attorney evaluates and analyzes all the evidence and circumstances to determine the appropriate approach for defending against a criminal conspiracy charge.
Conspiracy Charges Under Federal Law
The federal laws on conspiracy are very different from the Nevada criminal conspiracy statute. Federal law requires that at least one individual perform an act toward carrying out the crime. In addition, there are a number of different federal conspiracy laws, including some that are crime-specific, such as laws relating conspiracy in federal racketeering and sports bribery.
Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced Las Vegas Criminal Conspiracy Defense Attorney
If you face federal or state conspiracy charges, you need an aggressive criminal defense attorney who not only understands the laws and local courts, but also knows how to investigate and analyze evidence. If you are facing a conspiracy charge — or other state or federal criminal charges — in Las Vegas, Henderson, or elsewhere in Clark County, Las Vegas criminal defense attorney Joseph Gersten will evaluate your case based on his extensive investigative background and Las Vegas criminal defense experience. Then, he will develop a strategy to put forward the strongest defense possible.
Your initial consultation is free-of-charge. Call 702.857.8777 or complete our online form to schedule an appointment.