Most criminal charges in Columbia allege that a defendant has committed an illegal act. This may be an act of violence against another person or damage to an individual’s property. However, a small percentage of cases impose allegations against someone when there is no proof that they violated any of the state’s criminal laws.
One prime example of this concept is the charge of conspiracy, which refers to the planning of a crime between two or more parties. In this type of situation, the guidance of a knowledgeable white-collar defense attorney can be paramount to ensuring your rights are protected. If you are facing charges related to the planning of an alleged crime, a Columbia conspiracy lawyer may be able to help you.
Conspiracy is one of a few examples under state law where police are able to make an arrest, and prosecutors can pursue charges, even if a person has not done anything illegal. This is because the core concept of conspiracy describes a situation where two or more people agree to work together to commit a crime.
According to South Carolina Code § 16-17-410, it is illegal for two or more people to take any step towards the commission of a crime. This cannot involve simply agreeing to commit an act. Instead, the statute specifies that these people must take a substantial step towards achieving this goal. For example, two people may tell each other that they should rob a bank on a specific day. This is not a conspiracy. However, if these people then rent a getaway car, work to examine the bank’s security features, or plan an escape route, there may be sufficient cause to make an arrest alleging a conspiracy.
With so little physical evidence required in these cases, it can be difficult to prove innocence on one’s own. It is best to seek legal counsel from a conspiracy attorney in the Columbia area who is tenacious and well versed in this complex concept.
As examined above, people do not need to commit a criminal act to face punishment under the state’s conspiracy laws. In the worst-case scenario, a conspiracy conviction can mean felony charges along with a prison sentence of five years.
However, the same concept under the law states that a conspiracy conviction cannot bring a harsher penalty than would be available had a person followed through with committing the offense at the core of the matter. This can apply to misdemeanor-level crimes, such as certain thefts and assaults. A Columbia conspiracy lawyer could use their knowledge of the law to build a defense that helps an accused individual avoid these stiff penalties.
It can be challenging to understand why you are facing criminal charges when it appears you have done nothing to violate the law. If there is no obvious evidence to dispute your guilt, it can be just as difficult to prove your innocence. Sadly, the state’s conspiracy laws can punish people who take entirely legal actions that appear to work towards an illegal purpose.
If you have found yourself facing legal action on the basis of conspiracy with one or more parties, call today and speak with a Columbia conspiracy lawyer about the best way to help you craft a defense against these serious allegations.