Conspiracy to commit a crime occurs when a group of people plan a particular crime. The crime actually occurs when a person or persons take an “overt act” to commit the crime. It can be difficult for some people to understand exactly when this “over act” occurs. If you have been charged with conspiracy, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can examine the facts of your case and work to achieve the best possible results for you.
An overt act specifically means an open act from which criminal intent can be proved. In is an act that is not illegal per se, but can be used as evidence to prove intent to commit a criminal act.
An example would be conspiracy to commit robbery. If two men discuss robbing a bank, there is nothing illegal about discussing the act. They could potentially devise a very detailed plot on the robbery without actually breaking the law. But, if one of these men drives passed the bank, they could each be charged with conspiracy. This act, driving by the bank, could be considered the “overt act” of casing the bank to get an idea for entry points, exit points, etc.
Of course, there is nothing illegal about driving past a bank, so it may be difficult to prove that this act was in some way tied to the previous discussion. A defense attorney would perhaps argue that the man was just driving and was not intentionally passing the bank for any reason. Other examples of overt acts might include buying masks, buying guns, internet searches related to bank robberies, etc.
It should be noted that there are exceptions to this under federal law, specifically with regard to federal drug statutes. In those cases, according to the Supreme Court, the government does not need to prove that an overt act occurred.
Conspiracy to commit a crime can carry with it serious penalties. If you have been charged with this crime, a defense lawyer at Kroll & Johnson will aggressively fight for your liberty. We will carefully examine the evidence against you and do everything possible to build reasonable doubt about your guilt. If you have been charged with a crime in Portland or anywhere in Oregon, contact Kroll & Johnson today for a free consultation.