The Law on Conspiracy and its Punishments
in New Jersey
When the prosecution believes in the involvement of several people in one of the alleged criminal offenses in the state of New Jersey, a conspiracy charge can be slapped against them. An individual could be slapped with charges of criminal offenses under the law of New Jersey for agreeing to commit or plan a criminal offense. It also denotes that even when such an offense never really took place, the accused can be convicted for an act of criminal conspiracy.
Definition of criminal conspiracy
An individual is considered to be guilty of criminal conspiracy with some other persons or person for committing a crime in case the aim of facilitating or promoting the commission is one of the following:
- Agrees to help other persons or a person while committing a crime or planning to commit a crime or attempt for the commission or such a criminal offense; or
- Enters into an agreement other persons or a person so that at least one of them will be involved in conduct that comprises such criminal offense or solicits or makes an attempt for the commission of such crime.
When an individual who is found guilty of criminal conspiracy is aware that an individual with whom they conspire for committing a criminal offense has been conspiring with some other persons or a person for the commission of the same criminal offense, they can be held guilty of entering into a conspiracy with such persons or a person irrespective of whether he/she is aware of their identity or not for committing such a crime.
A person may not be convicted of criminal conspiracy in the state for committing a criminal offense apart from a 1st- or 2nd-degree criminal offense or possession or distribution with the intention of distributing a controlled deadly substance as defined by the law. The exception is when the overt act for such conspiracy has been established to be done by their co-conspirator or them.
A conspiracy that has multiple objectives
When an individual enters into a conspiracy for committing several criminal offenses, he/she is held guilty for the commission of a single conspiracy if these multiple criminal offenses are the outcome of continuous conspiratorial association or only one agreement.
If a person conspires to commit a number of crimes, he is guilty of only one conspiracy so long as such multiple crimes are the object of the same agreement or continuous conspiratorial relationship.
The law in the state of New Jersey further requires the following:
- Existence of an agreement: It is essential for the accused to enter into an agreement or a plan pertaining to a specific crime’s commission. The prosecution has to establish the existence of an agreement to convict the defendant in New Jersey.
- The agreement’s object should be a crime: It denotes that a criminal conspiracy can never be included in an offense for a disorderly person or any type of civil action that is an offense at a low-level in the state and not a criminal offense in the technical sense in New Jersey.
- Existence of an overt act typically: In a majority of the cases, a conspirator in the criminal conspiracy should have committed an overt act. It is regarded as a significant step for violating the law that demonstrates the intention of committing a criminal offense.
Punishment for Conspiracy in New Jersey
According to the law of the state, a first-degree conspiracy refers to a situation when the aim of a criminal conspiracy is to cause terrorism, commit murder/ when the aim of such a conspiracy is an act of arson in a religious place. A criminal conspiracy for committing less severe offenses can be punished as 2nd-, 3rd-, or 4th-degree criminal offenses. The convicted may have to give heavy fines and serve lengthy jail terms.