Have you Been Charged with Conspiracy in Georgia?
Conspiracy is one of the criminal offenses where the crime does not actually have to be completed for a defendant to be convicted. The offense of conspiracy was formulated with the goal of preventing serious crimes from taking places. Essentially every state has a statute for conspiracy to commit a crime, but the punishments and specifics vary. It is vital for your case to hire an Attorney that is knowledgeable of the particulars of the crime of conspiracy and how to successfully defend against it. Lawson and Berry and their team of Georgia Conspiracy Lawyers have more than 20 years experience. Let their experience work for you so contact them today.
Georgia Law on Conspiracy
O.C.G.A. §16-4-8 defines conspiracy as when a person commits the offense of conspiracy to commit a crime when he together with one or more persons conspires to commit any crime, and any one or more of such persons does any overt act to effect the object of the conspiracy.
To have a conspiracy, there must be an agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime. Case law has determined that there does not need to a meeting of the minds. A contract requires a meeting of the minds, but there just needs to be a mere tacit understanding between two or more people that they will pursue a particular criminal objective. Kilgore v. State, 251 Ga. 291, (1983). Further case law has found that the evidence must show that the defendants acted with a common intent and purpose and that things that happened were because of that intent and purpose. Garmon v. State, 122 Ga. App. 61, (1970).
Therefore, a conspiracy charge punishes people for doing more than just entering into an agreement to commit a crime. The people must start working on completing the arrangement to be convicted. What constitutes a step or act differs state to state.
Georgia Case Law
A man was convicted of conspiracy of possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute. Stokes v. State, 317 Ga. App. 435, (2012). Police officers pulled over the defendant, Stokes, who had a passenger. The officer had a drug dog who detected drugs in the car. Crack cocaine was found in the passenger's shoe as payment for driving the passenger to pick up the marijuana. In addition, there were two large bags of marijuana on the passenger. At the police station, Stokes admitted that he agreed to drive the passenger to pick up the marijuana in exchange for the cocaine. This satisfied the first element of conspiracy.
The second element of conspiracy is that an overt act must be committed in furtherance of the agreement. In this case, the overt act was Stokes driving the passenger to pick up the marijuana. That element is also satisfied. However, Stokes argued that there was insufficient evidence to establish intent to distribute the marijuana. One of the police officers testified that based on his experience, the amount of marijuana found in the car exceeded an amount that is consistent with personal use and that it shows an intent to distribute. Therefore, the Court was justified in concluding that the defendants are guilty of conspiracy to commit a crime.
There are plenty of cases where defendants are not found guilty of conspiracy. In the case of Griffin v. State, the defendant had their conspiracy to commit trafficking in cocaine conviction reversed. 294 Ga. 325, (2013). The evidence showed that defendant and two others went to an apartment to purchase marijuana. When they got to the apartment, a man came in from the back and opened fire. Everyone ran from the building, and police officers found a package with 248.56 grams of cocaine in the apartment. The defendants were charged with conspiracy to commit trafficking in cocaine. On appeal, the defendants argued that there was no evidence that they knew cocaine was at the house when they arrived and that there was no agreement to traffic the cocaine. The Court agreed, and their convictions were overturned.
What has to be Proven to be Convicted of Conspiracy
To be convicted of conspiracy in Georgia, the State must demonstrate that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Further, there must be a showing that an agreement was reached between at least two parties and that any person committed an overt act to effect the object of the conspiracy.
Penalty for Conspiracy to Commit a Crime in Georgia
If the conspiracy was to commit a felony, then the punishment will be no less than one year or more than one-half of the maximum period of time in prison or no more than one-half of the maximum fine for which he could have been sentenced if they were convicted of the felony.
If the conspiracy was to commit a misdemeanor, then it will be punished as a misdemeanor.
However, if the conspiracy was to commit a crime punishable by death or life imprisonment, then the penalty will be prison between one and ten years.
Defenses to Conspiracy in Georgia
There was no agreement: If you can prove that an agreement was not reached between the parties, then you will have a defense to conspiracy.
I acted by myself: If there was only one person who planned the crime, then there cannot be a conspiracy. Conspiracy requires at least two people.
Withdrawal from the conspiracy: Withdrawing from a conspiracy requires that a defendant take steps to adequately withdraw his cooperation. This involves informing the local authorities before the crime takes place or stopping all actions that lead to the completion of the crime.
What are not Defenses
There was no direct evidence of a conspiracy: Circumstantial evidence, such as conduct that would lead to a common plan between participants can establish that there was a conspiracy. Simpkins v. State, 149 Ga. App. 763, (1979).
There was no written agreement: There does not have to be a written agreement between the parties to form a conspiracy. However, there must be a common purpose between the parties to commit an unlawful act.
The co-conspirators were the ones who committed the crime (the objective of the conspiracy): With conspiracy, each participant in the conspiracy is responsible for the acts of the others. Causey v. State, 154 Ga. App. 76, (1980). Even if the co-conspirators were the ones that actually purchased the weapon for the murder, a defendant would still be convicted if he participated in the conspiracy to commit murder. They do not have to be the one to commit the overt act.
I did not participate in the formation of the conspiracy: After the conspiracy is formed, if a party joins, knowing of the existence and purpose of the conspiracy, then they are as much a party as if they had been an original member. Therefore, they can also be convicted of conspiracy. Wilson v. Appalachian Oak Flooring & Hdwe. Co., 220 Ga. 559, (1965).
The crime was not committed due to impracticability: Even if the crime was unable to be committed, the defendants could still be guilty of conspiracy.
The crime was completed: If the crime was completed, then a person cannot be tried for both the conspiracy and the crime. The defendant will be convicted of the completed crime. Kilgore v. State, 251 Ga. 291, (1983).
There was no “meeting of the minds.”: Courts have concluded that a meeting of the minds is required for a contract and that type of agreement is not necessary to form a conspiracy. An agreement will be found between the parties if there is a mere tacit understanding between two or more people that they will pursue a particular criminal objective. Kilgore v. State, 251 Ga. 291, (1983).
A conviction for conspiracy to commit a crime is still a serious crime and not taken lightly by the law. You need an Attorney that cares about you and your future. Lawson and Berry and their Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyers are available 24/7 to you- including nights, weekends, and holidays. Choose a Georgia Attorney that has experience and will let that experience work for you. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.