Any time that the alleged commission of an illegal act involves more than one person, it is possible that they will be charged with a criminal conspiracy in Oklahoma. But what exactly is a conspiracy, and how do prosecutors attempt to prove it in court?
In Oklahoma, state law defines a conspiracy as a crime requiring two elements:
- An agreement by two or more persons to commit an illegal act; and
- An overt act by at least of them in furtherance of the agreement.
Concerning the first of these elements, the question may arise as to how the prosecution can prove the existence of an agreement to break the law. Such an agreement is highly unlikely to be written down like a contract, and its nature is such that the parties would wish to keep the agreement a secret. The applicable law in Oklahoma allows proof of an illegal agreement to be demonstrated by circumstantial instead of by direct evidence: the behavior of the accused, for example, can lead to the inference that a conspiracy exists.
With regard to the second element, the question becomes “What constitutes an ‘overt act?'” This depends largely on the subject of the conspiracy itself. In other words, the act must be one that would naturally or logically be performed to carry out the intent of the conspiracy.
Consider an example of a bank robbery in which three people are involved: one to serve as lookout, another to drive the getaway car, and the third to gather the money. During the commission of the robbery, one of them fires a weapon and injures another person before all three are apprehended.
In this situation, federal prosecutors will be involved, because bank robbery is a federal crime. When we consider the elements to prove a conspiracy (the agreement and the overt act), the circumstances would indicate that an agreement to commit an illegal act existed because of the number of people who participated in the robbery. Overt acts could consist of scouting the bank in advance, driving to the bank location, obtaining a gun to use in the holdup, and so on.
Some of the unique characteristics of conspiracy law include the following:
- Any statement by one of the conspirators may be used as evidence against all of them.
- All of the conspirators are considered to be equally guilty of any foreseeable crime that any one of them may be convicted of.
Conspiracy is considered to be an ongoing crime for statute of limitations purposes. That is, the applicable statute of limitations begins with the commission of the last overt act in its furtherance.
In our bank robbery example, if one of the three individuals made an incriminating statement, that statement could be used in court against all three, and if the person who was injured during the commission of the robbery dies then all three participants will be charged with homicide even though two of them never fired a shot.
Conspiracy charges, federal or at the Oklahoma state level, can be complex to defend against as well as to prosecute. The Oklahoma Conspiracy lawyers at the Hunsucker Legal Group can help you to evaluate your best options based on the unique circumstances of your case. Contact the Oklahoma Criminal attorneys at 405-231-5600 to schedule your free consultation.