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PC 182 Law, Sentence & Defense
Information on the crime of conspiracy is found at California penal code section 182. Essentially, a conspiracy is an agreement, between two or more persons, to commit a crime.
PC 182(a) Law
To prove that the defendant is guilty of conspiracy, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant:
Agreed with at least one person to commit a crime, and
At the time of the agreement, the defendant intended to agree to commit a crime, and
At the time of the agreement, the defendant and the other person, or persons, that agreed with the defendant, intended that one or more of them would commit the target crime, and
One of the defendants committed at least one act towards the completion of the crime. The act itself does not have to be the crime, but rather, some act in furtherance of committing the crime.
Note: The crime of conspiracy is not complete if no party to the conspiracy has completed at least some act in furtherance of the conspiracy. An act in furtherance of the conspiracy is an act that is a substantial step towards completing the targeted crime. This substantial step towards completing the targeted crimes is known as an "overt act."
For example, if two people agree to commit murder with a gun, then purchasing a gun might be considered an act in furtherance of the conspiracy to commit murder. On the other hand, if two people agree to commit murder but then do nothing whatsoever in furtherance of that agreement, there is no conspiracy. Thus, the "overt act" is a pivotal part of any conspiracy prosecution.
Also, the crime of conspiracy is a separate crime from the target offense. For example, if two people conspire to commit robbery, and thereafter at least one of them commits the robbery, then both people are criminally liable for the conspiracy and the robbery (two separate offenses that carry separate punishments for both crimes).
On the other hand, if the defendant if found not guilty on the target offense, she may still be found guilty of the conspiracy to commit the target offense.
For example, if David conspires to commit murder against Goliath, but David is unsuccessful in his murder attempt of Goliath, the David may still be prosecuted for the conspiracy to murder Goliath.
Overt Act Must be Charged: A conspiracy charged must announce the overt act in the charging documents. For example, if the prosecutor charges the defendant with the crime of murder and the crime of conspiracy to commit murder, then the prosecutor must include the alleged overt act in the charging documents. Without the overt act being charged in the charging documents, the defendant may not be found guilty of the conspiracy charge.
Note: The district attorney does not have to allege every overt act that might have been taken by the defendant in a conspiracy charge, but the district attorney must allege at least one. Otherwise, the defendant will not know what overt act against which to defend.
One Conspirator's Overt Act: Only one of the conspirators is required to make the overt act in order for the crime of conspiracy to be complete against all conspirators.
For example, if five defendants conspire to commit the crime of welfare fraud, then all defendants are guilty of conspiracy to commit welfare fraud when only one of the defendants makes an overt act towards the target crime of welfare fraud.
PC 182(a) Penalties
There are several variations of conspiracy crimes. Arguably, the most common criminal charge of conspiracy is found at PC 182(a)(1) conspiracy to commit a an injurious act, or conspiracy to commit a felony.
PC 182(a)(1) Jail Sentence: Conspiracy to commit an injurious act may be filed as a felony or as a misdemeanor depending on the target offense.
If conspiracy to commit an injurious act as a felony is filed against the defendant, and no specific felony is identified, then the defendant could face up to three years in jail. If conspiracy to commit an injurious act as a misdemeanor is filed against the defendant, and no specific misdemeanor is identified, then the defendant may face up to one year in county jail.
Note: As stated, some conspiracy charges are classified as felonies and some conspiracy charges are classified as misdemeanors. Whether or not a conspiracy charge is filed as a felony or as a misdemeanor depends largely on the classification of the target offense.
Conspiracy to commit a felony, or Penal Code 182(a)(1), is a felony itself. If the defendant is found guilty of conspiracy to commit a felony, he or she could face up to the same number of years as prescribed by the underlying felony.
Conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor, is a misdemeanor itself. If the defendant is found guilty of conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor, he or she could up to one year in the county jail (PC 182(a)(4)).
For example, if the defendant conspired to commit arson to property, he could face up to the same number of years that he would face as if he had actually committed arson to property, which is up to three years in prison.
Probation Sentence: A probation sentence might be allowed in a conspiracy cases. But whether or not a a judge or district attorney would offer a probation sentence after a PC 182 conviction depends largely on the facts of the case and the defendant's criminal history, among other factors.
CIMT: PC 182 crimes are crimes involving moral turpitude. Criminal involving moral turpitude are crimes that are considered to be morally wrong or involve deceit. If convicted of any PC 182 crime, the defendant could face collateral punishments that are common to convictions for crimes involving moral turpitude, including immigration and professional licensing issues (lawyers, dentists, therapists, nurses, etc.).
In addition to any jail sentence, criminal convictions for PC 182 can lead to other severe consequences such as: probation or parole sentence, fines, lawsuits, employment loss, insurance rate increase (vehicle, professional, life), state registration (sex, arson & drug offenses), CPS consequences, mandatory meetings (NA, Domestic Violence, DUI, & Aids awareness), firearm prohibition, and more. The type of penalty and sentence largely depends on the crime alleged to be the target of the conspiracy.
Special Penalties for PC 530.5: In addition to the penalties listed above, if the defendant is found guilty of identify fraud, or PC 530.5, she will face up to a $25,000 fine (PC 182(a)).
Defense to Penal Code 182(a)
The crime of conspiracy is not limited to any particular defense options; there are many defenses that might apply to conspiracy charge. However, many PC 182 charges tend to rely on the following defenses: insufficient evidence to prove that the defendant conspired with another person to commit a crime, lack of an overt act that was in furtherance of the conspiracy, mistake of fact, intoxication, duress, statute of limitations, coerced confessions, and more.
Withdraw from the Conspiracy: There is a special defense in conspiracy crimes that allows the defendant to avoid prosecution of the target offense and possibly the conspiracy itself. This special defense is called withdrawing from the conspiracy. Essentially, the defendant may avoid prosecution for conspiracy if the defendant does all of the following:
1) informs every member of the conspiracy that she is withdrawing from the conspiracy,
2) takes back any material support that was given in support of the conspiracy, and
3) makes all reasonable effort to thwart the conspiracy, including calling the police to inform them of the other conspirators' plans, then the defendant is not guilty of the target offense (assuming the target offense still takes place).
In addition, the defendant might be able to defend against the conspiracy charge itself if no overt act has taken place at the time of her withdrawal from the conspiracy.
If the defendant is convicted of conspiracy, then post-conviction options may include appeal of the guilty verdict, withdraw of a guilty plea, terminate probation early, expunge the criminal conviction, and more.
If you have been charged with conspiracy, or Penal Code 182, contact our criminal defense lawyers without delay. Our criminal defense lawyers are experienced and will patiently explain your rights and defense options. Call today!
Related Conspiracy Crimes
PC 182(a)(1) Conspire to commit a felony
PC 182(a)(2) Conspiracy to indict falsely
PC 182(a)(3) Conspire to keep false court action
PC 182(a)(4) Conspiracy to cheat or defraud
Quick Reference Sheet
Crime: Conspire to Commit an Injurious Act
Code: PC 182(a)(5) (CalCrim No. 415 et seq)
Wobbler: Yes. PC 182(a)(5) is a wobbler. This means that PC 182(a)(5) may be charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor.
Incarceration: Felony PC 182(a)(5) jail sentence: 16 months, 2 or 3 years (if probation not granted). Misdemeanor jail sentence up to 1 year.
Probation: Probation may be available in PC 182(a)(5) cases (assuming other crimes or enhancements that bar a probation sentence are not present). Whether or not a probation sentence is offered by the District Attorney, or granted by the court, depends on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case.
Work Release or House Arrest: In some cases, a probation sentence can include actual in-custody county jail, house arrest (electronic monitoring), or work release (or some combination of these penalties); however, most in-custody jail sentence orders that are required as a terms of probation are much shorter than the maximum jail sentence.
PC 1170(h)): Yes. PC 182(a)(5) is subject to PC 1170(h) sentencing. This means that any jail or prison sentence may be:
Split (half in-custody / half out-of-custody)
Suspended (possibly never served)
Served in county jail (not state prison)
Note: Limitations may apply
Strike: PC 182(a)(5) is not a strike offense listed in California's Three Strikes law.
Credits: 50% good conduct credits available.
CIMT: PC 182(a)(5) is a crime involving moral turpitude if the target crime is a CIMT, which means that an arrest or conviction could lead to the following:
Professional Licensing problems
Impeachment on credibility
Firearms: Felony PC 182(a)(5) convictions bar the defendant from owning or possessing a firearm.
Bail: Amount equal to target offense (San Bernardino County)
Note: More penalties, direct or indirect, may apply. This info is created for that purpose only; accuracy not guaranteed. No attorney/client relationship is formed by use of this info. If arrested or charged with a crime contact a criminal defense lawyer without delay.
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California Conspiracy Law (Abbrev.)
PC 182(a) If two or more persons conspire:
To commit any crime (PC 182(a)(1)).
Falsely and maliciously to indict another for any crime, or to procure another to be charged or arrested for any crime (PC 182(a)(2)).
Falsely to move or maintain any suit, action, or proceeding (PC 182(a)(3)).
They are punishable as follows:
...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 (Abbrev.).
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 (Abbrev.).
...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) [Abbrev.].