The Law on Conspiracy and its Punishments
in North Carolina
Criminal conspiracy in its easiest terms is a plan or an agreement between at least two people for the commission of a crime. At the same time, it is imperative to point out that the crime details are much more complicated. Felony or misdemeanor charges may be applicable while there are subtle distinctions between laws of North Carolina and Federal law pertaining to criminal conspiracy.
While there is a slight distinction in the specific language used for defining conspiracy in the state and the federal law, the crime’s basic form comprises an agreement or a plan made by at least 2 persons for commission of a crime. A person might be slapped with conspiracy charges when the plan is to accomplish a legal act but through illegal conduct.
Conspiracy in North Carolina
Criminal conspiracy in the state of North Carolina is a kind of criminal partnership and has been described as an agreement entered into by at least two individuals to engage in an illegal act/to indulge in a legal act by illegal means or in an illegal way. If the prosecution wishes to convict the defendant of a conspiracy offense in North Carolina, it must be established that the defendant participated in an illegal confederation for the alleged criminal purposes.
According to this definition, conspiracy in the state comprises of 3 necessary elements, which should be established by the prosecution to convict the defendant. These are as follows:
- Commission of the crime was the agreement’s main subject
- The defendant and a minimum of one other person created an agreement; and
- The defendant and their co-conspirators had the intention of carrying out the criminal offense when the agreement was made by them
An individual charged with the offense should have had the intention of committing the crime. However, the defendant does not necessarily have to ensure the completion of the criminal offense or make an attempt to do so for being slapped with conspiracy charges in the state. However, they should take some specific steps to go ahead with a specific offense.
To put it simply, a person simply cannot be slapped with conspiracy charges just because they discussed stealing a bank. However, they can be slapped with such charges a plan to steal one of the banks with someone else and then purchasing a gun.
It is imperative to note in this context that the state law can penalize the guilty for conspiracy of committing an underlying criminal offense, as well as, for the actual commission of the underlying criminal offense. They can be also charged with attempt and conspiracy. However, the law cannot charge a defendant with the underlying offense itself and the attempt of the commission of the underlying criminal offense.
Punishment for Conspiracy in North Carolina
North Carolina punishes conspiracy of committing an underlying criminal offense as severely as the punishment for the underlying criminal offense itself. However, it is penalized a class lower in comparison to the punishment for the underlying criminal offense. For example, a conspiracy of committing the Class A/Class B felony is considered in the state as the Class B2 felony.
On the other hand, a conspiracy for committing the Class B2 felony is regarded as the Class C felony. Also, a conspiracy of committing the Class I felony is regarded as the Class 1 misdemeanor. The conspiracy of committing a misdemeanor is also penalized as a class lower in comparison to the underlying misdemeanor. The exception to rule is the conspiracy for the commission of the Class 3 misdemeanor, which is also considered to be the Class 3 misdemeanor.