It didn’t take you or your co-workers very long to realize that there are some flaws in your employer’s computer system that would be incredibly easy to exploit. Once in a while, you and your buddy have even joked that you could all easily get rich with a few careful keystrokes on your keyboard.
Sometimes, however, you feel like you’re only half-joking – and you’re sure that your co-workers feel the same. You’re all underpaid and unappreciated, and the fantasy of “sticking it” to your employer is pretty tempting.
Is there a point where even just talking about a crime becomes a crime? Here’s what you need to know.
Talk is just talk – until someone acts on it
As long as idle talk about a crime remains a fantasy, it’s not illegal. However, the moment that idle talk turns into action, that could be considered a criminal conspiracy – and it can lead to serious charges.
This holds true even when:
- There’s no overt agreement among the people involved to commit a crime. An agreement can be implied just from the situation. For example, maybe your co-worker says that it would take about five minutes to set up the code that would divert small amounts of cash from the company accounts wherever you direct them. You respond with, “Really? Prove it!” That could be enough to show that you agreed to the plan.
- You never actually commit the crime. For example, maybe that co-worker makes good on his word. You’re briefly tempted to put the whole scheme in gear, but then you tell him to back out of the system and delete the code before anybody sees it. While admirable, you may still be guilty of a criminal conspiracy simply because at least one overt action was taken in furtherance of your plan.
This is, naturally, a simplified explanation of how the law works – and real life is rarely simple. If you’ve been charged with a criminal conspiracy, don’t hesitate to seek strong legal guidance.