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New Jersey Conspiracy Charge Defense Attorneys
If multiple people are believed to be involved in an alleged crime in New Jersey, prosecutors can add a charge of conspiracy and raise the stakes for defendants. Penalties of criminal conspiracy are equivalent to the underlying offense, such as distribution of drugs or fraud, and a defendant can be found guilty of conspiracy without being found guilty of the underlying crime.
A person may be charged with criminal conspiracy under New Jersey law for allegedly agreeing to help plan or commit a crime. Even if the crime never happened, you can be sentenced for criminal conspiracy as if it did.
If you have been charged with criminal conspiracy in New Jersey, you need to obtain the services of a criminal defense attorney experienced in N.J. courts right away. The defense attorneys of the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are former New Jersey prosecutors and public defenders who have been on both sides of criminal cases throughout the state. Our firm is known for its creative criminal defense strategies, and is large enough to devote the resources needed for a solid defense against criminal charges that include conspiracy.
If you face criminal conspiracy charges in New Jersey, you need to understand what you’re up against. There are defense options in conspiracy cases, but New Jersey statutes make the threshold for having participated in a criminal conspiracy very low in most cases. The experience of the attorney you choose to represent you can make a significant difference in the outcome of conspiracy charges you face.
Our team has real-life experience with significant cases in courtrooms across New Jersey, many of which included add-on and standalone charges of criminal conspiracy. Call one of our nine N.J. offices or fill out our online form today to talk to one of our attorneys about your legal options in a free legal consultation.
Why is Criminal Conspiracy Included in Charges Against You?
A criminal conspiracy requires more than one person to be involved in the planning or commission of a crime.
Under New Jersey law, an individual conspires with someone to commit a crime if he or she has the purpose (intent) to promote or facilitate the offense, and either agrees with one or more person to commit the crime or to help plan or commit the crime or solicit someone else to commit the crime.
New Jersey law further requires that:
- The object of the agreement must be a crime. This means conspiracy cannot be added to a civil action or a disorderly persons offense, which is a low-level offense in New Jersey not technically defined as a crime. A conspiracy charge attaches to an indictable offense in New Jersey.
- There must be an agreement. The accused must have entered into an agreement regarding the commission of a particular crime. To obtain a conviction, the prosecution must prove that an agreement exists.
- There must have been an overt act — usually. In most cases, someone in the conspiracy must have committed what is termed “an overt act.” This is an act considered a substantial step toward bringing about the violation of the law, which thereby demonstrates intent to commit a crime.
But, if the underlying offense is a first-degree or second-degree offense in New Jersey (such as murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, etc.), or possession with intent to distribute drugs, the underlying crime does not have to take place for a conspiracy charge to be filed.
A stand-alone conspiracy charge — filed without an overt act having taken place — is meant to enable law enforcement to prevent serious crimes from occurring when evidence, such as gained through surveillance or informants, allows. However, legal scholars have suggested that lack of an overt act may open the door to conspiracy charges against “big talkers” or based on ambiguous statements by, or reportedly said by, defendants.
This suggests a further problem for a defendant charged with conspiracy, which is that rules of evidence allow the prosecution to introduce hearsay testimony in conspiracy cases. In most cases, hearsay evidence is inadmissible in court proceedings. But, in a conspiracy trial, statements made outside of court by alleged co-conspirators are admissible as evidence against all alleged members of the conspiracy.
Local investigators may involve federal authorities in criminal cases that involve a large number of people. A federal conspiracy case, which could also be based on federal crime allegations, might involve dozens or hundreds of people alleged to have participated in a complex drug trafficking or fraud scheme.
Federal RICO, or Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, charges may be filed as part of a series of indictments alleging conspiracy to commit such crimes as drug trafficking, prostitution, illegal gambling, etc. RICO charges often allege that the target defendants have operated one or more illegal enterprises.
As you can see, a conspiracy charge is a complicated matter. If you have been indicted on criminal charges in New Jersey that include conspiracy, you should remain calm and not answer questions or make any statement to police without an attorney present.
A lawyer from the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can help, and the sooner our firm is engaged to assist you, the sooner we can step in to protect your rights and develop a defense for you.
How We Can Help You Fight N.J. Conspiracy Charges
If you were arrested and are still in custody, we will work promptly to have you freed on the least amount of bail available or released on your own recognizance (ROR) if possible. Then we will meet with you to obtain your side of the story, and investigate further to determine the legitimacy and strength of the state’s case.
In cases before a grand jury, we can:
- Monitor testimony to get an idea of the evidence against you
- Investigate the facts of the case, and the evidence for charges under consideration
- Advise you about potentially cooperating with investigators
When a client has been charged with conspiracy, is not unusual for us to negotiate downgraded or dismissed charges in exchange for cooperation with police or the prosecution, if that is appropriate for the client. This is something we would fully discuss with you to ensure we had your agreement before moving forward.
An individual can avoid being convicted of conspiracy in New Jersey by renouncing their previous agreement to participate in the conspiracy prior to commission of the underlying crime. For a renunciation to be effective, the accused must inform authorities of the conspiracy and their involvement, and help authorities stop the criminal acts from happening.
If you have already been indicted, we would begin immediately to work on challenging the government’s case. We may be able to attack the charges on the basis of false or flawed testimony, or lack of credibility among alleged co-conspirators or undercover agents.
We may also be able to challenge the government’s case against you based on:
- Prosecution’s inability to prove an expressed agreement to engage in a conspiracy
- Lack of an overt act that establishes purpose, or intent, to commit a crime
- Mistaken identity or additional faulty evidence due to misinterpreted surveillance audio or imagery, witness testimony, etc.
- Racial, ethnic, socio-economic or other bias against you
- Police or prosecutorial misconduct creating flaws in your arrest, suspect lineup used to identify you, chain of custody of evidence, etc.
When necessary, or if it best serves your interests, we will be ready for trial with a case that demonstrates to judge and jury that justice demands a not-guilty verdict.
Call or fill out our online form today to talk to one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys about your case. We can meet in any of our nine offices in New Jersey to outline the legal options available, and the best steps to take to protect yourself from conspiracy charges.
Contact Our New Jersey Criminal Conspiracy Lawyers
If you have been indicted, arrested or face indictment for taking part in a criminal conspiracy in New Jersey, exercise your right to remain silent and contact the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall as soon as possible. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys will work diligently to protect you from the potentially severe consequences of the charges against you.
Conspiracy charges are easily filed in New Jersey and can have severe consequences, but our experienced defense attorneys can turn them into opportunities for clients in many cases. Contact us at any of our nine New Jersey law offices now for a free initial consultation about the legal options available to you in a criminal conspiracy case?