Conspiring with another person to break the law is a crime in Nevada whether or not the intended crime ever happens. Penalties may include several years in prison and high fines. But a seasoned Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer may be able to get the charge dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense.
This article explains the Nevada offense of criminal conspiracy. Scroll down further to learn the law, defenses, and penalties in Las Vegas.
The legal definition of "conspiracy" in Las Vegas, Nevada, is "an agreement between two or more persons for an unlawful purpose." Therefore merely agreeing to commit a crime is illegal. And it remains a crime whether or not the conspirators succeed in carrying out the agreed-upon crime.
Note that if the defendants made one agreement to commit more than one crime, each defendant may be charged with only one count of conspiracy in Nevada. The state may not bring separate conspiracy charges for each intended crime unless the crimes were part of separate agreements.
Also, note that the D.A. may choose to prosecute only one person for conspiracy in Nevada -- it is not necessary they prosecute every party to the alleged agreement. Furthermore, a participant in a conspiracy is no less liable because he/she played a more minor role than others.
However, the extent of his/her participation may make a difference during sentencing.
Nevada state law vs. federal law
Nevada law does not require that the D.A. show that the defendant committed an "overt act" in furtherance of the intended crime: Just making an agreement to break the law is sufficient grounds for conviction in Nevada under NRS 199.480.
But in contrast, prosecutors in federal court do have to show that the defendant acted in pursuance of the agreement in order to prove conspiracy. Therefore it is easier to be convicted on state conspiracy charges, which does not require an overt act, than on federal conspiracy charges, which does.
Read more about the federal offense of conspiracy.
Conspiracy can be a difficult charge for prosecutors to prove in Nevada especially if there is no physical evidence of the agreement. Instead, the state typically relies on inference from the parties' alleged conduct to support a conviction. The following are common defenses for conspiracy allegations in Las Vegas:
- There was no agreement. It is not conspiracy merely to have knowledge of an agreement to commit a crime or to discuss an agreement to commit a crime. Unless the D.A. can demonstrate that the defendant actually entered into an agreement to commit a crime, criminal conspiracy charges should not be sustained.
- There is insufficient evidence. A defendant should not be found guilty of a crime unless the prosecution proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed each element of the crime. So if the defense attorney can show that the state lacks reliable evidence that the defendant was party to any agreement, then the conspiracy charge should be dismissed.
- The evidence is inadmissible. A defense attorney can attempt to have state evidence "thrown out" by arguing that the police found the evidence through an illegal search and seizure. If the Las Vegas Court agrees and grants the defendant's motion to suppress evidence in Nevada, then the state may be left with inadequate evidence to prove conspiracy.
Note that it is not a defense to conspiracy that the defendant's co-conspirator was an undercover police officer. But if the defense attorney can show that the defendant was a victim of police entrapment in Nevada, it may be possible to get the conspiracy charge dropped.
The punishment for violating NRS 199.480 in Nevada depends on the crime the defendant was allegedly planning to help commit:
Murder, Robbery, Rape, Kidnapping, Arson, and ID Theft
Conspiracy is a category B felony in Nevada if the defendant conspired to commit either:
- The Las Vegas crime of murder
- The Las Vegas crime of robbery
- The Las Vegas crime of sexual assault
- The Las Vegas crime of kidnapping in the first or second degree
- The Las Vegas crime of arson in the first or second degree
- The Las Vegas crime of using another person's ID to harm or impersonate him/her
- The Las Vegas crime of human trafficking or Las Vegas crime of sex trafficking
- The Las Vegas crime of involuntary servitude
In conspiracy murder cases, the sentence may be two to ten (2 - 10) years in Nevada State Prison with maybe an additional fine of $5,000. Otherwise, it is one to six (1 - 6) years in prison.
If the defendant is accused of conspiring to commit the Nevada crime of racketeering, then it is also a category B felony in Nevada. But the sentence will be five to twenty (5 - 20) years in prison and maybe a $25,000 fine.
Conspiring to commit any other crime not listed above is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada. The sentence includes up to 364 days in Clark County Detention Center and/or up to $2,000 in fines. The same penalty holds for when the defendant is found to have conspired to commit any of the following acts:
- Falsely and maliciously procuring another person to be arrested or proceeded against for a crime;
- Falsely instituting or maintaining any action or proceeding;
- Cheating or defrauding another out of any property by unlawful or fraudulent means;
- Preventing another from exercising any lawful trade or calling, or from doing any other lawful act, by force, threats, or intimidation, or interfering or threatening to interfere with any tools, implements, or property belonging to or used by another, or with the use or employment thereof;
- Committing any act injurious to the public health, public morals, trade, or commerce, or for the perversion or corruption of public justice or the due administration of the law; OR
- Accomplishing any criminal or unlawful purpose, or accomplishing a purpose, not in itself criminal or unlawful, by criminal or unlawful means
Note that conspiracy to commit an offense and the completed offense are separate crimes. This means that a defendant may be convicted of both conspiracy and the underlying crime(s) as long as he/she attempts to commit it or succeeds in committing it.
Arrested? Call us
If you have been accused of criminal conspiracy under NRS 199.480 in Nevada, Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) can meet with you for a free consultation. They may be able to keep your record clean by negotiating a full dismissal. Otherwise, they are prepared to fight at trial for a not guilty verdict.
For information about California conspiracy laws, go to our page on California conspiracy laws.