Florida Statute Section 777.04(3) Criminal Conspiracy Charges in Florida
Conspiracy is a stand-alone crime under Florida law that often, but not always, accompanies additional criminal charges. A common example of a conspiracy is a murder-for-hire situation where a person conspires with one or more other people to kill someone. Whether murder is committed is irrelevant under Florida law. The act of intending and planning to kill a person is sufficient to meet the definition of conspiracy in Florida, which can land a person in jail for decades. Even though conspiracy could pertain to a minor criminal offense or Federal Crime, many conspiracy charges are serious felonies that often relate to murder, drug trafficking, and burglary, among crimes.
Conspiracy Under Florida Law
Under Florida Statute Section 777.04(3), a “person who agrees, conspires, combines, or confederates with another person or persons to commit any offense commits the offense of criminal conspiracy.” At trial, prosecutors must prove that (1) a defendant intended that a particular crime would be committed, and (2) an agreement existed between the defendant and at least one additional person to commit a particular crime. A conviction of conspiracy under Florida law ranges from a misdemeanor to a first-degree felony. Such a wide range in severity depends on the crime in which a defendant allegedly conspired to commit. Regardless of whether a subject crime is committed, a conspiracy can still exist, and conviction of a conspiracy charge on its own can lead to substantial jail time.
The punishment for conviction of conspiracy under Florida law is measured as one offense below the offense in which a defendant allegedly conspired to commit. As such, if a defendant allegedly conspires to commit a crime, which is a third-degree felony under Florida law, the crime of conspiracy, in this case, will be a first-degree misdemeanor. Likewise, if a defendant allegedly conspires to commit a crime, which is a second-degree felony under Florida law, the crime of conspiracy, in this case, will be a third-degree felony, and so on. The penalties for a conviction will range from no jail time (if the conspiracy relates to a low-level crime) to thirty or more years in jail for very serious crimes.
Defenses to the Crime of Conspiracy Under Florida Law and How an Attorney Can Help You
The threshold for proving a defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is the highest burden our court system has. A prosecutor must demonstrate that a defendant unquestionably committed the crime of conspiracy. A skilled and reputable Florida Criminal Defense Attorney will review and investigate all available facts and evidence to determine in what way the prosecution has not, or cannot, meet its burden of proof. Examples of defenses a qualified attorney may raise include, but are certainly not limited to, the following:
- There is insufficient evidence to prove an agreement existed between the defendant and one or more persons to commit a crime;
- The defendant lacked the requisite intent to commit the crime he or she is accused of conspiring to commit;
- The defendant was only physically present at a crime scene, which does not prove conspiracy;
- The defendant may have participated in a crime by aiding and abetting after the fact, but such evidence does not demonstrate or prove a conspiracy to commit the crime; and
- The defendant chose not to go along with a conspiracy he or she may have previously agreed to (such a defense can be supported by evidence including, among others, electronic communications such as text messages, emails, voicemails, and social media messaging).
To properly raise defenses to a conspiracy charge under Florida law, a defendant will need to retain the best attorney for the job who is familiar not only with the crime of conspiracy but an attorney who has ample experience in the courtroom as well as a good reputation with judges and prosecutors. The relationship between a defense attorney and others in the courtroom is paramount to resolving a criminal matter amicably. While a good attorney should be cordial and willing to work with prosecutors, he or she will also have the trial skills necessary to put up a fight against the prosecution in court. Many defendants, unfortunately, spend many years in jail because they did not have an attorney who identified potential defenses and raised such defenses at trial. As such, choosing the right attorney to handle a conspiracy matter from the beginning of the proceeding is imperative to have the best chance possible of reaching a more favorable outcome that may avoid jail time or at least minimize jail time in cases where criminal charges cannot be dismissed.
The Consequences of a Conspiracy Conviction in Florida
A person who has abided by the law his or her entire life could find him or herself facing serious felony charges in Florida for allegedly conspiring to commit a crime. Whether the prosecution’s allegations are true, a defendant now has an arrest record that reveals he or she is facing a felony. If this person is ultimately convicted of conspiracy under Florida law, he or she will likely be sentenced to jail for an indeterminate amount of time, which could range from one year to a few years or even ten or more years.
Once a person serves jail time, he or she is permanently branded a felon. He or she will have difficulty reintegrating into society, obtaining employment, renting or purchasing a home, and generally learning to live in a much different world. Because the consequences of a conspiracy conviction in Florida can be devastating, anyone facing such a criminal charge should consider how a superior Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer can help to minimize the potentially harsh penalties associated with a conspiracy conviction.
Protect Your Rights – Contact the Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Today
A conspiracy charge can be a serious felony that lands you in jail for many years. As such, if you or a loved one is facing conspiracy charges – regardless of whether related criminal charges have been filed – it is imperative to speak with a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney right away. At Musca Law, our attorneys have more than 150 years of combined experience defending and furthering the rights and interests of their clients throughout the state of Florida. Not only have our attorneys achieved favorable results for their clients, but they also have a good reputation among prosecutors, judges, and fellow criminal defense attorneys. To speak with a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer about your situation, contact Musca Law 24/7 by calling (888) 484-5057.