What Needs to be Proven in a DC Federal Conspiracy Case

In order convict someone on federal conspiracy charges, the prosecutor is going to have to show that there were two or more people who reached an agreement to violate some law or defraud the federal government. In other words, you can’t have a conspiracy with just one person. They’re going to have to prove that there was more than one person involved and that the people had an actual agreement to engage in criminal conduct.

Under most federal statutes dealing with conspiracy, the government does not need to prove that an overt act was taken in furtherance of the conspiracy. There are some specific statutes and the general federal conspiracy statutes that require the government to prove that at least one conspirator actually took an act to accomplish the goal of the conspiracy. But, for the most part, the government will just need to prove that two or more people had an agreement and that agreement involved a plot to violate federal law or defraud the federal government. To help defend against this offense, a DC federal conspiracy attorney should be consulted.

Common Types of Evidence

The prosecution does not need a written agreement to prove conspiracy. It would be extremely rare for defendants engaged in a conspiracy to actually write down an agreement.

Although, having said that, the government would certainly seek to use any kind of communication that they can get their hands on between the co-conspirators such as emails, U.S. mail, or text messages. The government will very often use wiretap evidence of intercepting and recording phone calls between conspirators and other parties to build the case and establish that these people are linked and working together.

Very often, in a conspiracy case, we see wiretap evidence. The government will try to get any kind of documentary evidence that they can. In addition, if they can get a hold of any kind of video surveillance, then they will attempt to get that. Finally, the government certainly wants to talk to any possible witnesses and see how useful they could be to prove their case against the defense.

The wiretap evidence, while not unique to conspiracy cases is fairly ubiquitous with conspiracy cases. In other words, you don’t see a lot of wiretap evidence in a non-conspiracy case. Typically speaking, when the government believes that a conspiracy exists, they will try to gather evidence through wiretaps to stop it, and prosecute those involved. That is unique to a conspiracy case as opposed to another type of case that does not involve multiple defendants working together trying to accomplish their goal.

Co-Conspirator Testimony

In general, the government needs to have more evidence of the conspiracy than simply a statement of one of the alleged conspirators against the other. This means that the government can’t just arrest two people and say that these two people are engaged in some kind of conspiracy and offer a plea deal to one of them. One person can’t just say we were in a conspiracy and this is what we did. If that’s all the evidence the government has, then they’re not going to be able to proceed because they need more than just the statement of one of the other conspirators. They need some evidence to corroborate it.

If the government is relying strongly on the statements of a co-conspirator, and otherwise has a weak case, then that’s certainly something the defense would want to attack.

It’s important, when defending a conspiracy case, to know what the realm of evidence is and what exactly the government has to prove its case against the defense. Thus, the defense attorney needs to be ready for the possibility of one of the co-defendants deciding to testify on behalf of the government and being able to properly combat that possibility.