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Conspiracy & Solicitation

In New York, conspiracy and solicitation are referred to as “inchoate,” or “incomplete,” offenses. This means that  you can be charged with conspiracy if you start to commit a crime, but either did not follow through or did not complete the act.

Conspiracy

Conspiracy is the implied or explicit agreement for two or more people to commit a criminal act. For a conspiracy charge to take effect, however, there must be an overt act taken to further this mutual aim. An example could be making a phone call or speaking with someone pursuant to the agreement. This single overt act can implicate everyone involved, even those who join the conspiracy after the call or meeting takes place.

Additional facts about conspiracy charges:

  • It is not necessary for everyone in the group to agree on all details
  • Every member does not have to agree to commit each stage of the offense

Unlike “attempt” crimes, conspiracy does not meld with the completed offense. Anyone who commits an armed robbery as part of a group, for example, can be charged with both conspiracy and armed robbery. The punishment for conspiracy typically parallels the penalty for the target offense. If you conspire to commit a felony, for example, you will be charged with a felony, although the punishment is usually not as severe as the target crime itself.

Solicitation

Another inchoate offense, solicitation consists of asking, inviting, encouraging, hiring, or ordering someone to commit a crime. Although the term is commonly associated with sex workers, it covers a wide range of offenses. At one time it only applied to felonies, but now it is possible to be charged with solicitation to commit a misdemeanor.

To be found guilty of solicitation, it is not required that the proposed crime be accomplished or even attempted. For example, if you ask someone to help you break into a house and steal its contents and that person refuses, you can still be charged with solicitation.

Under certain circumstances it is possible to be charged with attempted solicitation only. You might send a friend an email asking them to help you commit a crime, but if they never receive the message, you could face attempted solicitation charges. In this sense, solicitation is a more “incomplete” offense than conspiracy or an attempt to commit a crime.

If you have been charged with either conspiracy or solicitation, then contact an experienced New York criminal defense attorney immediately. Prosecutors, judges, and juries frown on these inchoate offenses almost as much as the actual crimes, because they suggest criminal intent that might meet with success next time. Your attorney will review the facts of your case and recommend a course of action that can result in a lesser charge being applied or, ideally, a complete dismissal of the case.

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