CONSPIRACY, COMPLICITY, & ATTEMPT OFFENSES
The offenses of CONSPIRACY, COMPLICITY, and ATTEMPT are offenses that are “incomplete” in the eyes of the law. By “incomplete,” the law says that a person planned and thought out a particular crime, but may not have had the opportunity to complete it. Therefore, a person may be guilty of attempted theft if they attempted to purposely deprive another person of their property, but was not successful in doing so. Similarly, a person may be guilty of complicity to theft if they aided and abetted another person in committing the offense of theft (e.g., a lookout, getaway driver, etc.).
Despite their “incomplete” classification, conspiracy, attempt, and complicity offenses have severe consequences.
In Ohio, a person is guilty of CONSPIRACY to commit an offense when, with the purpose of committing or facilitating a specific crime, the person either (1) plans or aids in planning an offense with another; or (2) agrees with another that one of them will engage in conduct that’s a specified offense. Collectively, the people who are involved in the conspiracy are known as co-conspirators.
Note that CONSPIRACY requires the offender to act with a purpose of committing or facilitating a specific crime. For a CONSPIRACY offense, these specific crimes are:
- Aggravated murder
- Compelling prostitution
- Promoting prostitution
- Human trafficking
- Aggravated arson
- Aggravated robbery
- Aggravated burglary
- Trespassing in a habitation when a person is present or likely to be present
- Engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity (RICO)
- Corrupting another with drugs
- Felony drug trafficking
- Felony drug manufacturing or processing
- Felony drug possession offense
- Theft of drugs
- Illegal processing of drug documents
- Felony unauthorized use of a vehicle
- Illegal transmitting multiple commercial electronic mail messages
- Unauthorized access of a computer
- Hazardous waste offenses that relates to hazardous waste
Generally, CONSPIRACY requires an agreement between two or more persons. Is a “one person conspiracy” possible under Ohio law? In certain circumstances, yes: the last remaining conspirator may be guilty of CONSPIRACY even if the other parties are acquitted, or even if the others in the conspiracy were just pretending to agree.
CONSPIRACY possible penalties:
- The possible penalties for CONSPIRACY depend on the underlying specific crime. The possible penalties range from F1 (felony of the first degree) on the high end and M1 (misdemeanor of the first degree) on the low end.
Generally, a person is complicit in committing an offense if that person helped another person to commit the offense. This is known as COMPLICITY. A person may be charged with COMPLICITY based on evidence of either:
- Soliciting or procuring another to commit an offense;
- Aiding or abetting another in committing an offense;
- Conspiring with another to commit the offense (i.e., conspiracy); or
- Causing an innocent or irresponsible person to commit the offense.
The complicit party must have acted with the same kind of culpability as the person who is actually committing the offense. For example, the crime of theft requires a person to purposely deprive another of their property. A complicit party must act with the same type of purpose in aiding or abetting the person who is actually committing the theft. In this example, the person who committed the theft may be guilty of theft, and the person who aided and abetted the thief may be guilty of COMPLICITY TO COMMIT THEFT.
COMPLICITY possible penalties:
- The possible penalties for COMPLICITY are the same as the underlying offense. In the example used above, the complicit party would face the same penalties as the person who committed the underlying theft offense.
Attempting, but not successfully completing a crime, is still a criminal offense. This is known as ATTEMPT. A person may be charged with ATTEMPT when they purposely or knowingly engage in conduct that, if successful, would constitute a criminal offense. In other words, ATTEMPT requires an act done with the intent to commit a crime, but falls short of completing the crime. The act must be a substantial step towards committing the crime; it must must strongly corroborate the actor’s criminal purpose.
ATTEMPT possible penalties:
- The possible penalties for ATTEMPT are one step less than the offense that the offender was attempting to complete. For example, theft is generally a M1 (misdemeanor of the first degree). Attempted theft would be a M2 (misdemeanor of the second degree).
DEFENSES TO CONSPIRACY, COMPLICITY, & ATTEMPT
The fact that the purpose of the conspiracy offense was “impossible” is never a defense.
A conspiracy is considered to be “terminated” when (1) the offense that is the purpose of the conspiracy is committed or (2) when it is abandoned by all the co-conspirators.
A person cannot be convicted of conspiracy based solely upon the testimony of a person with whom the defendant conspired. This means that the prosecution must provide additional, corroborating evidence.
After conspiring to commit an offense, a co-conspirator who thwarts the success of the conspiracy is not guilty of conspiracy. The “twarting” co-conspirator must show a complete and voluntary renunciation (i.e., abandoning) of their original criminal purpose.
- A person cannot be convicted of complicity unless an offense is actually committed. However, a person may be convicted of complicity in an attempt to commit an offense.
- An person who terminated their complicity conduct before committing or attempting to commit the offense is not guilty of complicity. That person must show a complete and voluntary renunciation (i.e., abandoning) of their original criminal purpose.
- The fact that the attempted offense was impossible is never a defense.
- An person who abandoned their effort to commit the offense is not guilty of attempt. That person must show a complete and voluntary renunciation (i.e., abandoning) of their original criminal purpose
Columbus CONSPIRACY Attorney | COLUMBUS COMPLICITY ATTORNEY
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