The crime of conspiracy must involve an agreement made between two or more people to commit an illegal act. This agreement can be explicit or implied from the conduct of the actors. However, an agreement alone does not constitute a criminal conspiracy charge. In order to prove a conspiracy, one or more of the individuals involved in the agreement must commit an “overt act” to facilitate the crime.
The underlying crime does not need to be carried out in order for the criminal conspiracy charge to apply. Even if the actors fail in the completion of the underlying crime, the conspiracy can be charged.
The agreement and “overt act” is enough to constitute a crime. A group of conspirators may be charged with criminal conspiracy even if one or many people involved change their minds, or if the plan is thwarted by law enforcement. After the “overt act” is committed, anyone involved in the agreement may be charged. This means that a person may be labeled a conspirator; even if his or her role in the planned crime is seemingly insignificant.
Criminal conspiracy charges can be applied to nearly any criminal act. The of seriousness of the conspiracy charge will reflect that on the underlying crime. Accordingly, the sentence that a conviction of a criminal conspiracy charge carries varies based on circumstances.