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Federal Criminal Conspiracy

NCJ Number
American Criminal Law Review Volume: 43 Issue: 2 Dated: Spring 2006 Pages: 495-526
Richard Siegel
Date Published
32 pages
This article discusses the elements of the offense of Federal criminal conspiracy, related defenses, the co-conspirator hearsay rule, enforcement, and sentencing.
Under Title 18, Section 371 of the U.S. Code, it is a crime to conspire to commit any offense against or to defraud the United States. A conspiracy offense is distinct from the crime that was the focus of the conspiracy, and it is charged as a separate offense. In addition to Section 371, provisions in numerous Federal statutes also criminalize conspiracy. These provisions attach to the substantive offense targeted by the statute. Section 371 is a more general statute that can apply to any offense against the United States. Although conspiracy is one of the most commonly charged Federal crimes, it is difficult to prosecute because of its secrecy and concealment from observation. Consequently, the law lessens the government's burden of proving the essential elements of the offense by requiring only a showing of the "essential nature of the plan and the conspirators' connections with it." One section of this article outlines the basic elements of a conspiracy offense under Section 371. Another section outlines the defenses that might be used to challenge charges brought under the statute. This is followed by a section that presents the evidentiary and constitutional guidelines that govern admissibility of co-conspirator hearsay testimony at trials that involve conspiracy charges. A section then reviews various procedural rules regarding the enforcement of the statute, and the concluding section discusses sentencing for a conspiracy conviction. 171 footnotes


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