"Conspiracy to Commit Drug" Crimes Charges in Florida
In most offenses, it is critical for a person to actually commit an act prior to being convicted. This is not always the case with the crime of conspiracy to commit drug crimes.
Conspiracy crimes have several names. Simply put, they are considered, in layman’s terms, “incomplete” offenses. Many lawyers, using legalese, refer to conspiracy to commit a crime as “inchoate offenses.” In general, they are offenses involving the preparation or the seeking to commit a crime. The most common “inchoate” offenses are “attempt,” although “conspiracy” is often charged by the prosecution, as is “solicitation.”
At Musca Law, our seasoned Florida criminal defense attorneys know that charges involving conspiracy are different than attempt charges, which are charged singularly. Conversely, charges involving a conspiracy can be pursued along with charges involving the offense itself. For instance, a person cannot be subject to charges with both attempted burglary and burglary, but may be charged with conspiracy to sell heroin and actually selling heroin to others.
Prosecutors throughout the state of Florida often use conspiracy to commit drug crimes to influence accused individuals to admit that they were involved in a crime and to pursue plea bargains that are unfavorable.
What Constitutes Criminal Conspiracy?
Conspiracy to commit a crime occurs when one individual commits a crime with another person who collectively agree to commit a crime. The charge of this offense is pursued to punish several people who plot or plan on committing a crime. There are two primary elements of the crime of conspiracy to commit a crime. These are as follows; (i) two or more people (ii) agree in unison to commit a crime.
The only way that an accused can face conspiracy to commit a drug crime charges is if another individual is in agreement to commit the offense with another person.
Penalties Associated with Conspiracy to Commit a Drug Crime
Pursuant to Florida Statutes Section 774.04, it provides the specific criteria pertaining to commit an offense. In general, the penalties associated with this offense is one degree lower than the actual offense that was committed but another person. For instance, if a person is charged with the conspiracy to sell over 30 pounds of cocaine, that individual would be subject to a felony in the second degree charge, which is just lower than a felony in the first degree that a person would be subject to for the actual charge of drug trafficking.
Keep in mind that other jurisdictions require the prosecution to establish that the accused was engaged in committing an act in pursuit of committing the conspiracy. Florida is not one of those jurisdictions. In Florida, the prosecution only has to prove that there was an agreement between two or more individuals.
More Information on Conspiracy to Commit a Drug Crime
Pursuant to the 2012 case of Davis v. State from the Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeals, it defines what is not a conspiracy charge. Specifically, the defendant faced trafficking in cocaine charges, as well as conspiracy to traffic the drug. According to the evidence in the case, the defendant was in agreement with another individual to sell 2 kilos of cocaine to another person on two separate days. Davis was able to complete one of the sales, but did not complete the other one.
The prosecution in this case charged Davis with trafficking because he completed one of the sales, and with conspiracy to traffic drugs, given that he did not complete the other sale. Davis was convicted of both charges, however, he submitted an appeal to the conviction of conspiracy to commit a drug crime.
The 5th District Court of Appeals reversed the ruling, asserting that there was not enough evidence to convict Davis of agreeing to buy or sell a drug. A conspiracy charge, conversely, requires a person and co-conspirator to agree to engage in a certain kind of transaction. SO either both agree to sell or agree to buy a drug.
There is a similar ruling in the case of Schlicter v. State, issued by the 2009 4th District Court of Appeals. Importantly, it is worth stating that there was a ruling that was incomplete issued by the 1st District Court of Appeals in Pallin v. State.
Finally, the Supreme Court of Florida issued a ruling in 2013 that the individual cases were not similar enough to assert a conflict of decision required for the judges to review. Other cases have weighed in on the varying elements of the offense of criminal conspiracy.
Moreover, the 1994 case of Rodriguez v. State issued by the 2nd District Court of Appeals, if a person’s connection to a crime was not part of a consensual agreement or was nominal, the prosecution has not established that a conspiracy occurred.
Defenses that Apply to a Conspiracy to Commit a Drug Crime
There are several parts that must be established for the prosecution to establish the charge of conspiracy to commit a drug crime. This is why it is critical for a defendant to work with a seasoned Florida criminal defense attorney prior to agreeing to a plea deal offered by the prosecution.
Some defenses that apply to conspiracy to commit a drug crime are as follows:
- The prosecution is unable to prove that a prior agreement existed between two or more people;
- The alleged conspirator(s) did not have the intent to commit the same offense;
- The prosecution can only establish presence or minimal participation by the accused;
- A law enforcement officer was one of the alleged conspirators;
- Aiding and abetting can only be established; and
- The underlying offense is disputed as to whether it was actually illegal.
It is important to realize that each conspiracy to commit a drug crime case is different, which means that it depends upon what defenses apply in a given case.
Musca Law Stands Ready to Defend Your Legal Rights
If you or a loved one is facing drug-related charges, act quickly to seek the advice of a seasoned Florida criminal defense attorney. Your constitutional rights are on the line and you need the best defense possible from the start. Musca Law is a large criminal defense firm that has extensive experience handling serious criminal charges. To speak with a Florida criminal defense attorney about your criminal matter, contact Musca Law today by calling (888) 484-5057 24/7. We look forward to helping you in any way we can.