California's Criminal Conspiracy Laws
Penal Code 182 PC

As stated in California Penal Code 182 PC, a criminal conspiracy takes place when one

  1. agrees with one or more other people to commit a crime, and
  2. one of them commits an overt act in furtherance of that agreement.1

Any member of the conspiracy may commit the overt act...which doesn't need to be criminal in and of itself. But does need to be performed before the commission of the agreed upon offense.

Examples

Some examples of conspiracies and overt acts include agreeing to

  • set fire to someone's car and buying the matches to light the fire,
  • burglarize a home and calling ahead to see if the occupant has left, or
  • kidnap a local judge before he/she sentences your friend and illegally obtaining his home address in order to capture him.
Defenses

There are a number of legal defenses that may exculpate you of your conspiracy charge.  Some of these include

  • there was no agreement,
  • there was no overt act,
  • you withdrew from the conspiracy,
  • you operated under a mistake of law, or
  • you were falsely accused.

And it is also common to be convicted of conspiracy without being convicted of the underlying crime (or vice versa).  Conspiracy and the underlying crime are two separate offenses, both of which require independent proof.

Penalties

The type of conspiracy you are convicted of will determine your punishment.  Some types of conspiracies are straight felonies while others are wobblers ("wobblers" are crimes which may be prosecuted as misdemeanors or felonies).

Many times, the penalties you face for your participation in a conspiracy will be based on the penalties that may be imposed in connection with the underlying offense.

Below, our California criminal defense attorneys2 explain California's conspiracy laws...and the applicable defenses to these laws...by addressing the following:

1. What is a Conspiracy?

1.1. Penal Code 182 PC

2. Legal Defenses

2.1. There was no agreement

2.2. There was no overt act

2.3. You withdrew from the conspiracy

2.4. Mistake of law

2.5. You were falsely accused

3. Penalties, Punishment and Sentencing

3.1. Conspiracy against a government official

3.2. Conspiracy to commit one or more felonies

3.3. Conspiracy to commit fraud

3.4. All other acts of conspiracy

3.5. Specifically with respect to murder

4. Related Offenses

4.1. Participation in a criminal street gang

4.2. Aiding and abetting

4.3. Accessory after the fact

If, after reading this article, you would like more information, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.

You may also find helpful information in our related articles on Aiding and Abetting; Being an Accessory After the Fact; Identity Theft; Murder; Wobblers; Misdemeanors; Felonies; California Legal Defenses; California's Felony Murder Rule; California's Gang Enhancement; Crimes of Moral Turpitude; and Deportable Crimes.

1. What is a Conspiracy?

A conspiracy is an agreement between two or more people...referred to as conspirators or co-conspirators...to commit a crime.  You can be convicted of conspiracy under California law even if you do not know all of the other members of the conspiracy or their roles in the conspiracy.  But in order to qualify as a conspiracy, that agreement must be followed by

  1. an overt act,
  2. committed in California,
  3. by at least one of the parties to the agreement,
  4. in furtherance of the agreement.3

An "overt act" is an act that is done in order to help accomplish the agreed upon crime.  This act must be performed

  1. after the agreement to commit the crime has been made but before the crime is completed,4
    and
  2. in addition to the agreement or plan to commit the crime.5

There are three additional facts that are critical:

  1. As Newport Beach criminal defense lawyer John Murray6 explains, "The overt act itself does not have to be criminal.7 Purchasing a weapon, making a phone call, walking into a building to locate all the exits, giving a 'signal' to the other co-conspirators, renting a room, renting a car, etc...any act (whether legal or illegal) that is done in furtherance of the objective will suffice."
  2. You may be guilty of conspiracy even if you don't commit the agreed upon crime.8 The conspiracy and the underlying offense are two separate charges.  Commission or completion of the latter isn't necessary to a charge for the former.
  3. There does not need to be an explicit or formal agreement between the conspirators...the fact that there was an agreement may be established by circumstantial evidence (that is, the circumstances surrounding the parties' actions).  This may be inferred from the acts or conduct of the conspirators in mutually working towards a criminal purpose.  As long as there is an unlawful agreement and an overt act done in furtherance of that agreement, a conspiracy is complete.9

1.1. Penal Code 182 PC

Penal Code 182 PC California's conspiracy law sets forth the specific conspiracies for which you may be prosecuted.  These include conspiracy to

  1. commit any crime (this is the catch-all conspiracy clause and includes any California crime, including misdemeanors, but it does not apply to
    federal crimes, as those violations will be prosecuted under
    federal law),10
  2. accuse another person falsely or maliciously of committing or participating in a crime (this clause is intended for situations where two or more people attempt to "frame" an innocent person for a crime or make false allegations that actually lead to an arrest and formal charges),
  3. Example: Frank paid Alice to get Bill drunk and to lure him into a "compromising" situation so that Sam, a private investigator, could secretly take pictures.  Frank and Sam intended to use those pictures to secure Bill's compliance with various demands.
    While Bill could have potentially been arrested for being drunk in public or prostitution, those facts weren't enough to sustain this type of conspiracy charge.  Frank, Alice and Sam would have had to take steps to secure Bill's arrest in order to be guilty of "accusing another person falsely or maliciously of committing or participating in a crime".11
  4. initiate or maintain a fraudulent lawsuit

    OR

  5. cheat and defraud another person out of money or property (we've grouped these last two together because they are closely related),
  6. Example: If you conspire to stage an automobile accident in order to collect undue insurance benefits...which also qualifies as California auto insurance fraud ...you could be held liable under California's criminal conspiracy laws.
  7. commit an act that is against public welfare or that perverts or obstructs justice,

    Examples: The fact is that these phrases are a bit vague, and most offenses that could qualify under this provision would probably be prosecuted under the "commit any crime" catch-all provision Penal Code 182(a)(1) above.

    Nevertheless, courts have held that crimes such as

    • bribery,
    • perjury,
    • falsifying evidence,
    • public officials failing to enforce criminal laws, and
    • acts of corruption by attorneys and/or judges
  8. could qualify under this section,12

  9. commit any crime against 
    a) the President or Vice President,
    b) the Governor of any state,
    c) any U.S. judge, or
    d) any U.S. Secretary.13
2. Legal Defenses

Fortunately, there are a variety of legal defenses to a conspiracy charge that a California criminal defense lawyer could present on your behalf.  The following are some of the most common:

2.1. There was no agreement

If there was no agreement to commit the offense, there is no conspiracy.  Just because a crime was committed...even when committed by more than one person...it does not necessarily mean that there was a prior "agreement" to commit the offense.

Let's say that you enter a convenience store with your friend.  Unbeknownst to you, your friend pulls out a gun and decides to rob the clerk.  As he's getting the cash, you decide to take advantage of the situation and grab a bunch of items before you both run out of the store.

You are both caught and arrested for robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery.  While it's true that you committed a theft ...and possibly even a robbery ...you never entered into an agreement to rob the store.

Given this type of situation, you would not be separately liable conspiracy.

2.2. There was no overt act

Now let's say that you have an agreement to commit a robbery.  You and some friends have planned the date, time and location of the crime.  You've even decided what roles you'll each play.

If neither you nor any of your co-conspirators commits an overt act in furtherance of that robbery, there is no conspiracy.  This is because mere thoughts are not criminal...actions are.  So simply planning a robbery isn't criminal in nature...it only becomes so when someone takes the next logical step to turn the plan into a reality.

This means that until someone actually "cases" the store, purchases ski-masks for all of you to wear or secures weapons for you to use during the robbery, your plan is just that...a plan, not a crime.

2.3. You withdrew from the conspiracy

Even if you do conspire to commit a crime, you are not guilty of conspiracy if you "truly and affirmatively reject the conspiracy and communicate that rejection" to your co-conspirators.  But note, there is a caveat to this rule.

In order to be absolved of any criminal liability, you must communicate your withdrawal before someone commits an overt act in furtherance of the crime.  If you wait until after someone commits an overt act to withdraw from the conspiracy, you will still be charged with the conspiracy but will not be held liable for any crimes that are committed after you communicated your withdrawal.14

Not only is the timing of the withdrawal critical, but so is the manner in which it is communicated.  If you don't affirmatively renounce your participation to the other conspirators, this defense won't work.

Example:  Defendant drove to a laundromat where his passenger got out of the car, held up a woman at gunpoint, took her purse and escorted her into the car.  The defendant asked her how much money she had.  When she replied she only had $5, he became angry and said she would have to perform oral sex on both men in violation of California's "oral sex by force" law.  The defendant held a gun to her head while she orally copulated him.  He then told the victim to orally copulate the passenger and then handed the gun back to the passenger so he could hold it while the victim performed oral sex on him.
While this was going on, they were pulled over by the police.  The police ordered the men out of the car, and the passenger opened fire.
The defendant claimed he withdrew from the conspiracy by submitting to a search and by his general cooperation with the police.
However, the court noted that a defendant's failure to continue previously active participation in a conspiracy is not enough to constitute withdrawal - there must be an affirmative and bona fide rejection of the conspiracy that is communicated to the co-conspirator.
It further held that "A failure to complete a crime because of threatened arrest or the appearance of the police is not such a free and voluntary act as to constitute abandonment."
As a co-conspirator, he was held equally liable for the assault with the intent to commit murder.15

2.4. Mistake of law

California's conspiracy law specifically provides that a conspiracy is an agreement between two people to commit a crime.  It therefore stands to reason that if you don't intend to violate the law, you are not guilty of a conspiracy.

As a result, a "mistake of law" defense may apply if you honestly and reasonably believed that you were not violating any laws.

Example: The defendant had a good faith belief that the Compassionate Use Act...
California's medical marijuana law ...allowed him to form a "co-op" to provide medical marijuana to himself and other approved patients and their primary caregivers.  He even contacted law enforcement officers and public officials to ensure that his organization was in compliance with the Act.
The court held that if the jury determined that the defendant had a good faith belief that his actions were legal...based on the Compassionate Use Act...that belief would negate the specific intent to violate the law that is required for a conspiracy conviction.16

2.5. You were falsely accused

False accusations can come into play in a number of situations.  The two most common include

  • someone trying to escape or reduce his/her own criminal liability, or
  • someone making the allegations out of anger, jealousy or revenge.

In any event, our firm's legal background as former prosecutors and police investigators provide us with the experience to bring these false allegations to light and maintain your innocence.

3. Penalties, Punishment and Sentencing

Members of a conspiracy are criminally responsible for all of the crimes that are committed by any of the co-conspirators if they are committed in furtherance of the conspiracy.  This is the case even if some of the members aren't aware of the other crimes.

And it's not at all uncommon for a defendant to be convicted of the conspiracy but acquitted of the underlying crime.  It bears repeating that the conspiracy and the crime that is the subject of the conspiracy are completely separate...you can be convicted or acquitted of one or both.

You should also be aware that if the underlying crime is a
crime of moral turpitude or another deportable crime, you could face deportation / removal even if you are a legal alien or immigrant.

Penal Code 182 PC California's conspiracy law sets forth different penalties for different types of conspiracies.

3.1. Conspiracy against a government official

If you are convicted of conspiring to commit a crime against any of the officials mentioned above under Section 1.1. Penal Code 182 PC, you face a felony, punishable by five, seven or nine years in the California state prison.17

3.2. Conspiracy to commit one or more felonies

If you are convicted of committing any other felony you face the same penalties that are imposed in connection with that felony.18 This means that if, for example, you are convicted of conspiracy to commit rape, you face three, six or eight years in the state prison which is the punishment for rape.19

If you are convicted of conspiring to commit two or more different felonies...all of which are part of the same conspiracy...you face the same penalties as the felony which has the most severe sentence.20

3.3. Conspiracy to commit fraud

If you are convicted of conspiring to cheat and defraud another person out of money or property, you face a wobbler. A "wobbler" is an offense that the prosecution may file as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on

  1. the facts of the case, and
  2. your criminal history.

If you are convicted of the misdemeanor, you face up to one year in a county jail and a maximum $10,000 fine.  If you are convicted of the felony, you face the same fine and 16 months or two or three years in the state prison.21

3.4. All other acts of conspiracy

All other acts of conspiracy...which would include conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor...are also wobblers, punishable in the same manner as described above.  The exception to this rule applies to conspiracy to commit identity theft. If you are convicted of this offense, your maximum fine increases to $25,000.22

And because all other acts of conspiracy under this section are wobblers, it means that you can actually be convicted of felony conspiracy even if the underlying offense is a misdemeanor.

3.5. Specifically with respect to murder

If you conspire to commit murder ...that is, possess the specific intent to kill another person unlawfully and commit an act in furtherance of that act...you face punishment that is equivalent to first-degree murder.  This is because conspiracy to commit murder requires a mental state which is equivalent to deliberation and premeditation.23

But if you conspire to commit a crime that is specifically listed in Penal Code 189 PC, such as

and someone dies during the commission of the offense either

  1. in furtherance of the offense, or
  2. as a foreseeable consequence of the offense...

each of the conspirators may be convicted of first-degree murder pursuant to California's felony-murder rule. And this law applies regardless of whether the killing was intentional, unintentional or accidental but only if the conspirator joined the conspiracy before the fatal blow was inflicted.24 Otherwise, someone who, for example, only joins in the conspiracy after a victim is killed, will not be liable for the murder but may be charged with the remaining charges and/or as an accessory after the fact, discussed in Section 4.3 "Accessory after the fact" below.

4. Related Offenses

There are several crimes that are closely related to conspiracy...either because prosecutors commonly charge them in connection with or in lieu of traditional conspiracy charges.  Examples include (but are by no means limited to):

4.1. Participation in a criminal street gang

If you

  1. actively participate in a criminal street gang,
  2. with the knowledge that its members engage in "a pattern of criminal activity" (that is two or more specific crimes that occur within three years of one another...on separate occasions...by two or more people), and
  3. willfully promote, further, assist or benefit from any felonious criminal conduct by the gang,

California conspiracy law dictates that you are guilty of conspiracy to commit that
felony. If convicted, you face the same penalties listed above in Section 3. Penalties, Punishment and Sentencing.25

And if you are convicted of additionally participating in the underlying felony, you will likely face additional and consecutive punishment under Penal Code 186.22 PC California's criminal street gang sentencing enhancement.

4.2. Aiding and abetting

If you conspire to commit a crime...and additionally encourage, facilitate or aid in the commission of that crime...prosecutors will likely also charge you as an aider and abettor to the crime.

If you are convicted on the basis of California aiding and abetting laws, it means that...for sentencing purposes...you are treated the same as the actual perpetrator of the crime (even if you were not at the scene and didn't personally participate in the crime's commission).

And just like the punishment for conspiracy, a conviction for aiding and abetting subjects you to the same penalties as the underlying crime.26

4.3. Accessory after the fact

If the prosecution can prove that you participated in the crime after its commission by assisting the perpetrator after he/she has committed a felony by aiding in his/her escape from arrest, trial, conviction and/or punishment, it will likely charge you with being an accessory after the fact (California Penal Code 32).

If the prosecutor can only prove that you participated in the crime after the fact, you face less serious penalties than you would for being a co-conspirator.  Being an accessory after the fact is a wobbler, punishable by up to $5,000 and

  1. up to one year in a county jail for a misdemeanor, or
  2. 16 months or two or three years in the California state prison for a felony.27

But if the prosecutor can prove that you conspired to commit the crime and then...in a separate and distinct act...acted as an accessory after the fact, you could be convicted of both offenses.

Example:  You conspire to commit a robbery.  You help plan the robbery by "casing" the store and researching the best time to commit the offense.  However, you do not personally rob the store.
After your co-conspirator commits the crime, he shows up at your house...followed closely by the police...and hands you the gun he used.  You quickly bury it in your yard.
Given these circumstances, your actions are separate and distinct, subjecting you to penalties as a conspirator, and aider and abettor, and an accessory after the fact.
Call us for help...
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If you or loved one is charged with Penal Code 182 PC conspiracy and you are looking to hire an attorney for representation, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group. We can provide a free consultation in office or by phone. We have local offices in Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and throughout California.

To learn about the laws in Nevada, please visit our page on Nevada criminal conspiracy laws.

Legal References:

1 California Penal Code 182 PC - Conspiracy.  ("(a) If two or more persons conspire: (1) To commit any crime. (2) Falsely and maliciously to indict another for any crime, or to procure another to be charged or arrested for any crime. (3) Falsely to move or maintain any suit, action, or proceeding. (4) To cheat and defraud any person of any property, by any means which are in themselves criminal, or to obtain money or property by false pretenses or by false promises with fraudulent intent not to perform those promises. (5) To commit any act injurious to the public health, to public morals, or to pervert or obstruct justice, or the due administration of the laws. (6) To commit any crime against the person of the President or Vice President of the United States, the Governor of any state or territory, any United States justice or judge, or the secretary of any of the executive departments of the United States. They are punishable as follows: When they conspire to commit any crime against the person of any official specified in paragraph (6), they are guilty of a felony and are punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for five, seven, or nine years. When they conspire to commit any other felony, they shall be punishable in the same manner and to the same extent as is provided for the punishment of that felony. If the felony is one for which different punishments are prescribed for different degrees, the jury or court which finds the defendant guilty thereof shall determine the degree of the felony the defendant conspired to commit. If the degree is not so determined, the punishment for conspiracy to commit the felony shall be that prescribed for the lesser degree, except in the case of conspiracy to commit murder, in which case the punishment shall be that prescribed for murder in the first degree. If the felony is conspiracy to commit two or more felonies which have different punishments and the commission of those felonies constitute but one offense of conspiracy, the penalty shall be that prescribed for the felony which has the greater maximum term. When they conspire to do an act described in paragraph (4), they shall be punishable by imprisonment in the state prison, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine. When they conspire to do any of the other acts described in this section, they shall be punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or in the state prison, or by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine. When they receive a felony conviction for conspiring to commit identity theft, as defined in Section 530.5, the court may impose a fine of up to twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000). All cases of conspiracy may be prosecuted and tried in the superior court of any county in which any overt act tending to effect the conspiracy shall be done. (b) Upon a trial for conspiracy, in a case where an overt act is necessary to constitute the offense, the defendant cannot be convicted unless one or more overt acts are expressly alleged in the indictment or information, nor unless one of the acts alleged is proved; but other overt acts not alleged may be given in evidence.")

See also Penal Code 184 PC - Overt act; venue.  ("No agreement amounts to a conspiracy, unless some act, beside such agreement, be done within this state to effect the object thereof, by one or more of the parties to such agreement and the trial of cases of conspiracy may be had in any county in which any such act be done.")

See also California Jury Instructions - Criminal "CALJIC" 6.10 Conspiracy and Overt Act—Defined.  ("A conspiracy is an agreement entered into between two or more persons with the specific intent to agree to commit the crime of [[or] ] and with the further specific intent to commit that crime [[or] ], followed by an overt act committed in this state by one [or more] of the parties for the purpose of accomplishing the object of the agreement. Conspiracy is a crime. In order to find a defendant guilty of conspiracy, in addition to proof of the unlawful agreement and specific intent, there must be proof of the commission of at least one of the acts alleged in the __________ to be [an] overt act[s] and that the act found to have been committed was an overt act. It is not necessary to the guilt of any particular defendant that [he] [she] personally committed an overt act [, if [he] [she] was one of the conspirators when the alleged overt act was committed]. The term "overt act" means any step taken or act committed by one [or more] of the conspirators which goes beyond mere planning or agreement to commit a crime and which step or act is done in furtherance of the accomplishment of the object of the conspiracy. To be an "overt act", the step taken or act committed need not, in and of itself, constitute the crime or even an attempt to commit the crime which is the ultimate object of the conspiracy. Nor is it required that the step or act, in and of itself, be a criminal or an unlawful act.")

2 Our California criminal defense attorneys have local Los Angeles law offices in Beverly Hills, Burbank, Glendale, Lancaster, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Pomona, Torrance, Van Nuys, West Covina, and Whittier.  We have additional law offices conveniently located throughout the state in Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, Oakland, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby cities.

3 Penal Code 184 PC -- Overt act; venue.  ("No agreement amounts to a conspiracy, unless some act, beside such agreement, be done within this state to effect the object thereof, by one or more of the parties to such agreement and the trial of cases of conspiracy may be had in any county in which any such act be done.")

See also California Jury Instructions - Criminal "CALJIC" 6.10 Conspiracy and Overt Act—Defined.  ("A conspiracy is an agreement entered into between two or more persons with the specific intent to agree to commit the crime of [[or] ] and with the further specific intent to commit that crime [[or] ], followed by an overt act committed in this state by one [or more] of the parties for the purpose of accomplishing the object of the agreement. Conspiracy is a crime. In order to find a defendant guilty of conspiracy, in addition to proof of the unlawful agreement and specific intent, there must be proof of the commission of at least one of the acts alleged in the __________ to be [an] overt act[s] and that the act found to have been committed was an overt act. It is not necessary to the guilt of any particular defendant that [he] [she] personally committed an overt act [, if [he] [she] was one of the conspirators when the alleged overt act was committed]. The term "overt act" means any step taken or act committed by one [or more] of the conspirators which goes beyond mere planning or agreement to commit a crime and which step or act is done in furtherance of the accomplishment of the object of the conspiracy. To be an "overt act", the step taken or act committed need not, in and of itself, constitute the crime or even an attempt to commit the crime which is the ultimate object of the conspiracy. Nor is it required that the step or act, in and of itself, be a criminal or an unlawful act.")

4 People v. Brown 226 Cal.App.3d 1361, 1368.  ("In People v. Zamora, supra, our Supreme Court held that "acts committed by conspirators subsequent to the completion of the crime which is the primary object of a conspiracy cannot be deemed to be overt acts in furtherance of that conspiracy." (18 Cal.3d at p. 560, 134 Cal.Rptr. 784, 557 P.2d 75.) Requiring that the overt act precede commission of the crime is consistent with the controlling statutory language. An agreement becomes punishable only upon the doing of an act "to effect" the object of the agreement. (§ 184.) FN3 The object of a punishable conspiracy is commission of a crime. (§ 182, subd. (a)(1).) The verb "to effect" means "to bring about; produce as a result; cause; accomplish." (Webster's New World Dict. (3d college ed. 1988) p. 432.) An act cannot bring about, produce, cause, or accomplish commission of a crime which has already been committed.")

5 See same.

6 Newport Beach criminal defense lawyer John Murray represents clients throughout Orange County, including Newport Beach, Santa Ana, Fullerton, Laguna Beach, Irvine, Anaheim and Westminster, as well as in the South Bay (including Long Beach and Torrance).

7 See same.

8 People v. Zacarias (2007)157 Cal.App.4th 652, 657.  ("Conspiracy is an inchoate crime. It does not require the commission of the target offense. Because it is an inchoate crime, conspiracy fixes the point of legal intervention at the time of the agreement to commit a crime.")

9 People v. Woodard (1956) 145 Cal.App.2d 529, 536.  ("It is well settled that the gist of conspiracy is the unlawful agreement to commit an offense and an overt act done in furtherance of the agreement; that its existence may be established by circumstantial as well as by direct evidence, which may be inferred from the acts or conduct of the defendant in mutually carrying out a common unlawful purpose. An explicit or formal agreement between the parties is not necessary, and when established, all the members of the conspiracy are bound by all acts of the members done in furtherance of the agreed plot.")

10 People v. Zacarias at 658, endnote 8, above.  ("At issue is the meaning of the phrase "any crime" as used in [Penal Code section 182 California's conspiracy law], subdivision (a)(1). The parties do not cite and we have found no case deciding whether an agreement to commit a federal crime is a conspiracy under section 182... [and at 660] We conclude that the term "any crime" as used in section 182 refers only to crimes created by California law.")

11 Facts based on People v. Shawn (1932) 125 C.A. 55, 59

12 1 Witkin, Cal. Crim. Law 3d (2000) Elements, § 88, p. 303.

13 See Penal Code 182 PC California's conspiracy law, endnote 1, above.

14 Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instruction 420 Withdrawal From Conspiracy.  ("The defendant is not guilty of conspiracy to commit <insert target offense> if (he/she) withdrew from the alleged conspiracy before any overt act was committed. To withdraw from a conspiracy, the defendant must truly and affirmatively reject the conspiracy and communicate that rejection, by word or by deed, to the other members of the conspiracy known to the defendant. [A failure to act is not sufficient alone to withdraw from a conspiracy.] [If you decide that the defendant withdrew from a conspiracy after an overt act was committed, the defendant is not guilty of any acts committed by remaining members of the conspiracy after (he/she) withdrew.] The People have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not withdraw from the conspiracy [before an overt act was committed]. If the People have not met this burden, you must find the defendant not guilty of conspiracy. [If the People have not met this burden, you must also find the defendant not guilty of the additional acts committed after (he/she) withdrew.]")

See also People v. Sconce (1991) 228 Cal.App.3d 693, 701-702.  (""The requirement of an overt act before conspirators can be prosecuted and punished exists, ..., to provide a locus p[o]enitentiae—an opportunity for the conspirators to reconsider, terminate the agreement, and thereby avoid punishment for the conspiracy." ( People v. Zamora, supra, 18 Cal.3d at p. 549, fn. 8, 134 Cal.Rptr. 784, 557 P.2d 75; People v. Crosby, supra, 58 Cal.2d at p. 728, 25 Cal.Rptr. 847, 375 P.2d 839; People v. Olson (1965) 232 Cal.App.2d 480, 490, 42 Cal.Rptr. 760.) Obviously, the inverse of this rule is that once an overt act has been committed in furtherance of the conspiracy, the crime of conspiracy has been completed and no subsequent action by the conspirator can change that. Thus, even if it be assumed Sconce effectively withdrew from the conspiracy or, as Sconce argues, that the People conceded withdrawal before the trial court, withdrawal merely precludes liability for subsequent acts committed by the members of the conspiracy. The withdrawal does not relate back to the criminal formation of the unlawful combination. In sum, conspiracy is complete upon the commission of an overt act. This rule is consistent with the traditional view that the crime of conspiracy is complete with the agreement and an overt act, and no subsequent action can exonerate the conspirator of that crime. (La Fave & Scott, Substantive Criminal Law (1986) § 6.5(f), p. 110.) Federal law is consonant with this view. "[T]o avoid complicity in the conspiracy, one must withdraw before any overt act is taken in furtherance of the agreement."")

15 People v. Beaumaster (1971) 17 Cal.App.3d 996.

16 People v. Urziceanu (2005) 132 Cal.App.4th 747.

17 See Penal Code 182 PC California's conspiracy law, endnote 1, above.

18 See same.

19 See same.

See also California Penal Code 264 -- Rape; punishment.  ("(a) Rape, as defined in Section 261 or 262, is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for three, six, or eight years.")

20 See Penal Code 182 PC California's conspiracy law, endnote 1, above.

21 See same.

See also California Penal Code 18 PC -- Punishment for felony not otherwise prescribed; alternate sentence to county jail. ("Except in cases where a different punishment is prescribed by any law of this state, every offense declared to be a felony, or to be punishable by imprisonment in a state prison, is punishable by imprisonment in any of the state prisons for 16 months, or two or three years; provided, however, every offense which is prescribed by any law of the state to be a felony punishable by imprisonment in any of the state prisons or by a fine, but without an alternate sentence to the county jail, may be punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year or by a fine, or by both.")

See also California Penal Code 672 PC -- Offenses for which no fine prescribed; fine authorized in addition to imprisonment. ("Upon a conviction for any crime punishable by imprisonment in any jail or prison, in relation to which no fine is herein prescribed, the court may impose a fine on the offender not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000) in cases of misdemeanors or ten thousand dollars ($10,000) in cases of felonies, in addition to the imprisonment prescribed.")

22 See Penal Code 182 PC California's conspiracy law, endnote 1, above.

23 People v. Cortez (1998) 18 Cal.4th 1223, 1229.  ("We went on to observe that, "conspiracy is a specific intent crime requiring an intent to agree or conspire, and a further intent to commit the target crime, here murder, the object of the conspiracy. Since murder committed with intent to kill is the functional equivalent of express malice murder, conceptually speaking, no conflict arises between the specific intent element of conspiracy and the specific intent requirement for such category of murders. Simply put, where the conspirators agree or conspire with specific intent to kill and commit an overt act in furtherance of such agreement, they are guilty of conspiracy to commit express malice murder."")

24 People v. Pulido (1997) 15 Cal.4th 713, 729.  ("One proper manner of modifying CALJIC No. 8.27 to limit the liability of late joiners, therefore, would be to insert in the instruction the following italicized phrase: "If a human being is killed by any one of several persons engaged in the commission or attempted commission of the crime of --, all persons, who either directly and actively commit the act constituting that crime, or who, at or before the time of the killing, with knowledge of the unlawful purpose of the perpetrator of the crime and with the intent or purpose of committing, encouraging, or facilitating the commission of the offense, aid, promote, encourage, or instigate by act or advice its commission, are guilty of murder of the first degree, whether the killing is intentional, unintentional or accidental." Alternatively, CALJIC No. 8.27 could be qualified by telling the jury directly, through a separate supplemental instruction, that the rule of liability described in the instruction does not apply to a person who aids and abets the perpetrator of the crime only after the killing has been completed.")

25 Penal Code 182.5 PC -- Participation in criminal street gang.  ("Notwithstanding subdivisions (a) or (b) of Section 182, any person who actively participates in any criminal street gang, as defined in subdivision (f) of Section 186.22, with knowledge that its members engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity, as defined in subdivision (e) of Section 186.22, and who willfully promotes, furthers, assists, or benefits from any felonious criminal conduct by members of that gang is guilty of conspiracy to commit that felony and may be punished as specified in subdivision (a) of Section 182.")

26 California Penal Code 31 - Principals, defined.  ("All persons concerned in the commission of a crime, whether it be felony or misdemeanor, and whether they directly commit the act constituting the offense, or aid and abet in its commission, or, not being present, have advised and encouraged its commission, and all persons counseling, advising, or encouraging children under the age of fourteen years, or persons who are mentally incapacitated, to commit any crime, or who, by fraud, contrivance, or force, occasion the drunkenness of another for the purpose of causing him to commit any crime, or who, by threats, menaces, command, or coercion, compel another to commit any crime, are principals in any crime so committed.")

See also People v. Green (1950) 96 Cal.App.2d 283, 290. (""Where persons are not actors in the actual commission of the crime charged, but aid and abet others in its commission or procure others to commit the crime, all are equally guilty."")

27 California Penal Code 33 PC -- Accessories; punishment.  ("Except in cases where a different punishment is prescribed, an accessory is punishable by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by imprisonment in the state prison, or in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.")

See also California Penal Code sections 18 and 672 PC, endnote 21, above.

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