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What Are Federal Conspiracy Charges?


The term “conspiracy” is often used colloquially to refer to criminal acts that involve more than one person, but it is important to know that there is a specific federal statute under which federal conspiracy charges can be brought. Yet it is also essential to keep in mind that conspiracy is a broad term that may be applicable to a wide variety of behaviors or actions in connection with various types of criminal offenses. Our Dallas federal criminal defense lawyers want to provide you with more information about federal conspiracy charges, explaining how the law is defined and when these types of charges may be brought.

Federal Conspiracy Law

There is a specific federal conspiracy criminal law (18 U.S.C. § 371), which reads as follows:

“If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both. If, however, the offense, the commission of which is the object of the conspiracy, is a misdemeanor only, the punishment for such conspiracy shall not exceed the maximum punishment provided for such misdemeanor.”

Understanding How Conspiracy Gets Charged

What does this mean in terms of how conspiracy can be charged as a crime under federal law? In effect, a person can face conspiracy charges under one of two circumstances:

  • Two or more people conspire to commit an offense that violates federal law, and one or more of the parties commits an act in furtherance of committing the offense; or

  • Two or more people conspire to defraud the federal government or a federal agency, and one or more of the parties commits an act in furtherance of defrauding the government or a federal agency.

To be clear, at least one of the parties involved in the conspiracy must commit an overt act designed to accomplish the goal. Yet to be clear, only one of the parties must commit an overt act for all of the parties to face conspiracy charges. It is not a defense to say that you did not commit an act in furtherance of a conspiracy if at least one of the other parties involved did commit an overt act.

Contact an Experienced Dallas Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

If you are facing conspiracy charges under federal law, it is essential to begin working on your defense with an experienced federal criminal defense attorney in Dallas as soon as possible. While conspiracy charges can be brought under a specific federal law, they are often charged in connection with other violations of federal criminal law. As such, you should be sure to work with a lawyer who has experience handling a variety of federal criminal charges.

Do not hesitate to get in touch with our firm to learn more about how we can help. Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC to learn more about how we can help you with your defense strategy.