The Law on Conspiracy and its Punishments
People living in countries keep asking various types of questions but there are a few most asked questions. One among them pertains to crimes. Especially when people come to know of the commission of a serious crime, they pose all types of questions and find fault with the governments.
But at the same time, a fact that cannot be ignored is that there are several people who are aware that governments are doing their best to prevent crimes from happening. As far as the USA is concerned, there has always been a democratically elected government that does not leave any stone unturned for preventing crimes. Apart from the laws that have been enacted by the Federal government, the state governments have also brought out their own laws by effecting a few tweaks to the Federal laws in order to suit the environments that prevail in their states.
Among the various types of crimes, there is one relentless crime that may have links with several other crimes such as burglary, theft, murder, etc., and it is the conspiracy crime. That is the reason the Federal government has put in place separate laws for dealing with this crime. Similarly, state governments have also enacted laws for preventing conspiracy crimes. Let us now look at the conspiracy laws that prevail in the state of Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Conspiracy Laws
Conspiracy charges are highly complex and that is the reason lawmakers of the state of Massachusetts have always been approaching the crime with grit, determination, attention to details, and focus. The state laws describe a conspiracy crime as follows:
If two or a number of individuals enter into an agreement for committing an unlawful act, it is a conspiracy crime. The crime can attract potentially severe punishments. Unlike a few other states that have put in place stringent rules for the prosecution to prove the elements of the crime, the state of Massachusetts has made the job of the prosecution simple. This means that the prosecution must prove just three elements. They are:
- Firstly, the prosecutor must prove that the accused had entered into an agreement or made a plan with at least another individual. There might be a few other individuals also who might have joined and entered into an agreement.
- Secondly, it is the duty of the prosecutor to prove that the agreement was for committing an unlawful or criminal activity.
- Lastly, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant or the defendants, while joining the group, were aware of the plan for committing an unlawful or criminal activity. In a few other states, the laws require the prosecution to prove that an overt act has been carried out by the defendant or defendants. But the courts of the state of Massachusetts have dispensed with this clause long ago. Further, the job of the prosecution in Massachusetts courts has become easy because the courts allow circumstantial evidence to be used for proving a conspiracy crime.
In most of the conspiracy cases, the defendants are charged with two offenses. They may be booked for the conspiracy crime and also for the crime they committed as a part of the crime. This means that even if the defendants get acquitted for the other crime, they can be convicted for the conspiracy crime. Similarly, if they get acquitted for conspiracy crime, they can be convicted for the other crime.
Penalties for conspiracy crimes as per Massachusetts laws
- If the objective of the conspiracy crime is a felony that may generally attract a punishment of life imprisonment, the penalty for a conspiracy crime may be imprisonment for a period that does not exceed 20 years and a fine of an amount of $10,000.
- If the objective of the conspiracy crime is an offense that generally attracts 10 years of imprisonment or a prison term of a longer period, then the courts may pronounce a penalty of imprisonment for a period not exceeding ten years and a fine of an amount that is not in excess of $10,000.
- For other conspiracy crimes for committing felonies that generally attract a punishment of imprisonment for a period below 10 years, the defendants will face the penalty of imprisonment for a period of five years and a fine of an amount of $5,000.
- For conspiracy crimes the objective of which is not a felony, the courts may pronounce a punishment of imprisonment for a period not exceeding 2 ½ years and a fine of an amount of $2,000.