The Law on Conspiracy and its Punishments
The word conspiracy is frequently referred to in popular fiction and movies. Conspiracy is a secret plan by a person or a group of persons to do something malicious or harmful to others. When not detected in time, a well-planned conspiracy could result in major damage to all the parties involved. Every state in the USA has laws that deal with conspiracy.
Elements of conspiracy
The core elements of the crime of prosecution are:
- Intention or an agreement between two or more persons to do a criminal offense.
- An act is done in order to execute the agreement.
Definition of conspiracy
The crime of conspiracy is defined in Section 28-202 of the Nebraska revised statutes. According to this section,
- The defendant will be guilty of indulging in a conspiracy if, with the objective of commissioning a felony:
- He agrees with another person that they or any of them will engage in, solicit the conduct or shall cause, solicit in the result that is specified in the definition of the offense.
- The defendant or the person with whom he conspired with commits an overt act while executing the conspiracy.
- The defendant knows that the person with whom he conspired to commit a crime had already conspired with another person or group of persons to commit a similar crime. In such cases, the main defendant will be guilty of entering into a conspiracy with such other people irrespective of whether he is aware of their identity or not.
- If a person conspired to commit multiple crimes, he will only be guilty of only one conspiracy as long as the multiple crimes that were planned are the object of one single agreement or form a continuous relationship.
Punishment for the crime of conspiracy
The laws of Nebraska do not specify any particular punishment for different types of conspiracy. Instead, the person found guilty of conspiracy will receive the same kind of punishment which will be awarded to the most serious offense that is the object of the conspiracy. For example, if the most serious crime that is the object of the conspiracy is a Class III felony, then the guilty will receive the penalties of a Class III felony. However, the only exception is that conspiracy to commit a Class I felony will receive the penalties of a Class II felony.
Federal conspiracy law
Apart from the state laws of Nebraska that deal with the crime of conspiracy, a citizen of Nebraska might be held guilty under the Federal Conspiracy Laws. It is governed by Section 371 of the US Code. If one or more persons conspire to commit an offense against the USA, he/they shall be punished with imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years and a fine.
Exemption from Punishment for Conspiracy
A person who is being prosecuted for the charge of committing a conspiracy will be exempted from receiving any kind of punishment if he can prove before the judge/jury with enough evidence that he involved in a conspiracy due to entrapment by somebody else.
Conspiracy and renunciation of criminal intent
While a person is being prosecuted for criminal conspiracy, he can get an affirmative defense from the prosecution if he can prove to the court that under the circumstances he has given a voluntary and total renunciation of the criminal intent. For example, the defendant can claim and prove before the court that he gave a timely warning to the law enforcement authorities or made a good effort to prevent the execution or the result that is an object of a planned conspiracy.