The Law on Conspiracy and its Punishments in Missouri
When any two or more individuals come together with the intent to engage in a criminal act or break State rules, then they can be charged under a conspiracy. It is essentially an umbrella charge that holds every individual accountable who has had the intent to engage in criminal activity.
Criminal responsibility is a term often used during conspiracy cases. It signifies the responsibility of every individual in maintaining the law. And conspiring to break the peace is a punishable offense. The actual crime of conspiracy is different from the crime the consolidated were intending to engage in. If a group of robbers gets together with the intent to rob a location, then they can be charged with conspiracy towards the same. And if the crime was committed and the group did engage in robbery, then they have to face charges for that crime as well.
What constitutes a conspiracy in the State of Missouri?
Conspiracy is a charge that holds every person who has had the intent to engage in criminal activity as a duo or a group, accountable for that same intent. The term 'intent' holds primary importance when it comes to conspiracy related cases. A prosecutor must prove that the defendants intended to go through with the crime in order for there to be a successful conspiracy charge.
One way to show that the premeditated crime was not hearsay and the members were indeed intending to pursue the crime, is being in possession or acquiring those items, materials or substances, that can and were intended to be used in their planned crime. So if the aforementioned robbers bought any of the equipment they need from the robbery store before the robbery, then it shows intent to commit the crime. The actual act of successfully or unsuccessfully attempting the crime is a charge separate from the conspiracy charge. However, when the crimes are related, they are tried in accordance with the nature of the crime. Punishments become more severe if more charges are added on to the initial charge of conspiracy.
It is not considered conspiratorial when a person engages in an action which may otherwise constitute as conspiracy, but without any intent. So if a family member, friend or even a stranger was involved in any way, they are not held accountable under conspiracy as they were not aware of the ramifications of their actions. This can include anything from a close friend driving conspirators to their destination to someone buying the conspirators what they need for their crime from the store.
Only those people whose intent can be proven, using both physical as well as circumstantial evidence can be charged under a conspiracy.
What are the punishments for conspiracy in the State of Missouri?
The punishments for conspiracy generally can go up to five years spent in an allocated jail. However, this punishment and the time served in jail can both go up depending on the nature of the crime and whether it was committed or not.
A conspiracy against the government is treated with extreme harshness and can lead to more severe punishments irrespective of whether the group successfully engaged in the crime. A conspiracy to kill someone is also a serious charge, but the punishment received in this instance is dependent on whether the intended victim was actually killed or not.
If the person was not killed, then the conspirators are only charged under a conspiracy to commit the crime. If they do kill the person, then they are also charged for murder. Such a murder will almost always be pre-mediated. If a person is accidentally killed while another crime is being committed by a group of conspirators, like a bank heist, then the conspirators will be charged for conspiracy, robbery as well as manslaughter. Therefore the ultimate punishment depends on what happened from the point of agreement that the crime was to be committed till their appearance at court.