Federal Conspiracy Investigations

The following is taken from an interview with DC federal conspiracy lawyer Matthew Wilson as he discusses how those charged with federal conspiracy can expect to be investigated. If you have been accused of conspiracy, call today and schedule a consultation with an attorney.
At the federal level, we can expect to see the United States Attorney’s Office as the prosecutor overseeing the investigation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and some other specialized law enforcement units such as the Secret Service, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in these drug cases. Often, there will be task forces that are comprised of local law enforcement who are working with federal authorities in a specific area. You may see Metropolitan Police Department here in the District of Columbia. You’ll also see some detectives and other officers who are working hand in hand with the DEA and the FBI to make sure that they’re throwing all the resources at a situation that they believe they need to.

You’re going to see efforts by the government to obtain any and all documents related to any of the conspirators that might be able to show their involvement. Common examples would be phone records, bank records, and any kind of rental agreements, such as rental cars or storage units. The government is going to seek any of those documents to try to definitively show that this person was involved.

Once the government steps in and executes search warrants to obtain illegal items or starts making arrest with conspirators, you can expect that anyone else who is involved is going to try to immediately stop what they’re doing and distance themselves.

Therefore, the government tries to build as strong a case as they possibly can upfront so when they start seizing evidence and making arrests, they already have everything they need to get everybody.

How Do Federal Prosecutors Treat Conspiracy Cases?

United States Attorneys prosecute federal conspiracy cases very strongly and harshly, depending upon what the objects or criminal acts are that are involved in the conspiracy. Typically speaking, legislatures, courts, and prosecutors view conspiracies as worse than an individual performing the same criminal action because when two or more people get together, plan, and work in concert to achieve a criminal objective that increases the chance that criminal actions will be undertaken. When you’ve got two or more people doing it, there is a greater chance that objective will be obtained.

Also, it speaks to a criminal mindset because people are actually planning, plotting, and taking steps together to execute a criminal plan in an enterprise. It shows that these people are dangerous and working in concert to violate the law so because of that both courts and prosecutors treat conspiracy cases very harshly.

Are Conspiracy Charges Ever Part Of A Bigger Case?

Conspiracy charges are often part of a bigger case. This happens most often when the government is pursuing charges against an alleged conspiracy. When they finally do come in and seize evidence, they will make specific charges for the possession of drugs,  possession of stolen merchandise, possession of guns, or whatever it might be that’s involved. They actually catch those individuals in possession of those items. They’ll also charge the specific acts that were done in furtherance of the conspiracy. Then, in general, it will also hit everybody involved with the conspiracy charge.

Can You Be Charged With a Crime and Conspiracy?

Yes, you certainly can be charged for both an underlying offense and conspiracy to commit that offense. In other words, if John Smith and John Doe agree that they want to violate some federal law together and are going to take action together to do so, then once they reach that agreement the conspiracy already exists.

If one of them actually does go forward and robs a bank but the other one doesn’t, then the one who robs the bank will be charged with both conspiracy and bank robbery while the other will be charged with just  the conspiracy.

That’s hypothetical, but it illustrates that the agreement itself is a violation of the law. The courts, prosecutors, and legislatures want to stop people from even starting the process of coming to an agreement to violate the law the conspiracy in it of itself will be a separate charge from the actual crime that later happens regardless if they actually succeed or attempt to succeed in the conspiracy.