Every crime in California is defined by a specific code section. Our attorneys explain the law, penalties and best defense strategies for every major crime in California.
Most states say that you are guilty of the crime of conspiracy to commit murder if you:
As to an “agreement,” it does not have to be clearly articulated or complete in details. Further, it can be inferred from your conduct.
The main focus is that you know that the purpose of the agreement is to intentionally murder someone and you agree to take part in the crime.
With regards to an act that furthers an agreement, most jurisdictions say that it must be some specific act that helps the group advance the murder crime. Examples may include someone:
Depending on the facts of the case and the state in which the conspiracy took place, a defendant may face the same penalties for conspiracy to commit murder as the person would have faced for actual murder charges.
The criminal laws of most states say that you commit conspiracy to commit murder if you agree with one or more other people to intentionally and unlawfully kill someone.1
Note that many states say that you are not guilty of conspiracy unless one of the co-conspirators takes some overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy or in furtherance of the agreement.2
No. The focus of a conspiracy charge is on whether or not you were a member of an agreement to break the law.
In the case of conspiracy to commit murder, it is your association with other people who want to intentionally kill someone that constitutes the crime. All that matters is that you acted with someone else and there was:
The crime of conspiracy to commit murder does not require that you be physically present at the murder scene.
In most states, no. An agreement can be clearly stated, but in the case of conspiracy, the agreement can also be inferred from your conduct.
However, note that whether the agreement is clearly stated or inferred, the agreement must be to intentionally kill a person.
For example, if you meet with another person in a park and discuss killing someone, you can be guilty of conspiracy to commit murder. This is even true if you did not explicitly agree on every detail of the killing.
Note also that an agreement can take place over time, it does not have to come to fruition at one particular moment. Further, it is not necessary that you know:
You just have to know that the specific intent of the agreement is to kill and agree to take part in the agreement.5
For those states that require a showing of an “overt act,” the phrase means that some member of the agreement must take a substantial step to further the object of the conspiracy.6
An overt act has to come after you entered into the agreement to kill, but before the murder is complete.
Further, note that the overt act does not have to be the murder itself. But it must be more than an agreement to kill.
Note, too, that it is not necessary that the overt act be unlawful in nature. For example, an overt act to further a murder can include any of the following legal acts:
Most often, no. An actual murder usually does not have to occur for you to be guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.
It is the agreement to kill which constitutes the offense, not the actual crime itself.
“Withdrawal” is a popular legal defense to the crime of conspiracy. This is because you are usually not guilty of a conspiracy charge if you:
While you can defend against this crime with other arguments, it is best to consult with a skilled criminal defense attorney to learn the best defense. A criminal defense lawyer will be able to provide legal advice as to what defense is most effective in casting reasonable doubt on a prosecutor’s case.
Note that most defense lawyers and law offices provide free consultations. This means you can learn about your legal options at no cost.
Further, the communications between you and your attorney are protected by the attorney-client relationship. This means your attorney cannot disclose your confidences without first gaining your consent.
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.
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