There are situations in which people consider committing a crime and then change their minds. Maybe their plan falls apart, or perhaps they just have a change of heart and decide not to act upon those thoughts. You cannot be arrested simply for thinking of a criminal activity, so people assume that they have to take action and commit the crime before they would face any charges.
As much as this is generally true, there is one key way in which you could face charges even though you did not carry out the crime. This is if you are accused of being part of a conspiracy. Let’s take a look at how that is different.
How a conspiracy works
Essentially, for something to be a conspiracy, the government simply requires that multiple people have made plans and taken at least one action toward the completion of those plans. The action that they take does not necessarily have to be criminal in its own right. They could still face conspiracy charges, even if they never had a chance to complete those plans and go through with the conspiracy.
For example, there could be a conspiracy to move drugs across state lines. This is a federal crime. If two people discuss how to procure and transport those drugs, and then they go rent a van that they’re going to use during this process, they could already be arrested for participating in a criminal conspiracy. They do not necessarily have to be caught with a van full of drugs as they go across the state line.
If they are, of course, then they could face drug trafficking charges and conspiracy charges, but it’s important to note that the conspiracy charges can stand on their own. This is a complex type of charge, so it’s important for people to know about all of their legal defense options.