Conspiracy to Commit Murder
You’re no doubt familiar with the fact that a murder conviction in Pennsylvania will lead to some of the most severe sentences judges in this Commonwealth can order. However, a lot of confusion usually surrounds what conspiracy to commit murder means, especially since it’s quite rare to be charged with a crime by association. The details can be complex because even indirect involvement could lead to conspiracy charges. All it really takes is for one of the conspirators to get arrested and everyone who planned or participated in carrying out the crime will probably be charged. Fortunately, there are defense options available if you or a loved one have been accused of conspiracy to commit murder in PA. These defenses are best explored by working with an experienced conspiracy to commit murder defense attorney.
Philadelphia violent crimes lawyer Michael Fienman of Fienman Defense has extensive experience representing individuals charged with serious crimes and is also highly skilled in handling murder conspiracy charges. Often, offenses are similar but can be distinguished by a trained and experienced professional. It is the subtle distinctions that necessitate hiring experienced legal counsel. If you or a loved one are facing conspiracy to commit murder allegations, do not speak with law enforcement or make any statements before consulting a veteran criminal defense attorney.
Call Fienman Defense at (215) 839-9529 or submit your information online to arrange a free, confidential consultation right away.
Understanding Conspiracy to Commit Murder
The definition of conspiracy under Pennsylvania law encompasses any crime linked to one’s actions if the intent is to promote or facilitate the completion of the offense through:
- An agreement with others to engage in criminal conduct; or,
- Aiding the others in planning to commit a crime.
In the case of conspiracy to commit murder, it’s not necessary that you were present at the scene, used a weapon, or took direct action that contributed to the victim’s death. You could be arrested for conspiracy if you had any role or act in furtherance of the crime. Conspiracy charges may be applied where you are part of a group of two or more people who intended, planned, solicited, or attempted to murder someone else. In other words, it’s your association that constitutes the crime.
Conspiracy Includes Otherwise Lawful Acts
Bear in mind that the agreement or form of aid itself doesn’t have to be illegal to be charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Some acts that are lawful can still lead to your arrest if you conduct yourself with the intent to further the ultimate goal of accomplishing murder. Examples include:
- Buying a firearm;
- Giving a co-conspirator a weapon;
- Making a phone call to support the murder plan;
- Providing signals to other co-conspirators;
- Renting a hotel room to commit the crime;
- Driving a getaway car; and,
- Any other act that, while legal in other contexts, becomes unlawful when the objective involves killing another person.
Explicit Agreement is Unnecessary
Additionally, you don’t have to make a formal, written agreement, or even explicitly state your consent to become part of a conspiracy to commit murder. Circumstantial evidence, through your acts, omissions, or other conduct, may be used by the prosecution to obtain a conviction. An inference of unlawful agreement and an act in furtherance of the crime is all that’s necessary.
It Takes Just One Accusation
Because of the broad definition of conspiracy to commit murder and the wide range of evidence admissible in court, you can see that just one person’s allegations can lead to your arrest. You can be charged with the same crime as all others that were involved with planning, aiding, or agreeing to commit the offense.
Conspiracy to Commit Murder Penalties
Another similarity between murder and conspiracy to kill someone is the penalties you’ll face if you’re convicted. When one person is convicted, you’re subject to the same conspiracy to commit murder sentence as the other co-conspirators. You’re in a similar (if not the same) situation as if you’d pulled the trigger yourself. This means your conspiracy to murder sentence could be life in prison for first degree murder, though a prosecuting attorney may have grounds to seek the death penalty. Even lower grades of murder can carry a first degree felony charge, with possible sentence of 20 years’ and a $25,000 fine.
A Violent Crimes Attorney to Defend Your Rights
There are ways to fight conspiracy to commit murder charges, starting with exploiting weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. The two primary lines of attack are disputing that an agreement to commit murder existed, and presenting evidence that contradicts the allegations that you aided in planning or carrying out the crime. A conspiracy to commit murder defense attorney can assist in exposing flaws and raising doubt in the minds of the jury.
In addition, there are facts and arguments that you may raise in your defense. With help from a criminal defense lawyer, you can contest the charges by showing that:
- You withdrew from the conspiracy to commit murder;
- You were unaware of an agreement or plan;
- You abandoned the plan before any over act occurred;
- You were falsely accused by a co-conspirator; or,
- Any other facts that negate the allegations by the prosecutor.
The key to getting the court to reject the prosecutor’s allegations and accept your defense is presenting the necessary facts and arguments. Members of the jury only hear the evidence before them. Unless you have a legal background, you may not understand the law or court procedural rules. To level the playing field, you should rely on a conspiracy to commit murder defense attorney to make sure all exculpatory information is presented the court and jury for proper consideration.
Call a Criminal Conspiracy Lawyer in Philadelphia
If you’ve been arrested for conspiracy to commit murder, time is of the essence to retain experienced counsel to represent your interests. You have rights, but evidence and legal arguments won’t help unless you have a knowledgeable conspiracy to commit murder defense attorney on your side. Please call Fienman Defense at (215) 839-9529 to set up a no-cost, confidential consultation. We can review the charges and start developing a defense strategy right away.
Questions? Contact us today.
Based on the evidence, Fienman Defense will try to show that the charges should be dismissed. If it’s in your best interest, we will work to negotiate a lesser sentence. Should the case go to trial, we will fight to present the strongest defense possible for your situation.