Federal Conspiracy against Civil Rights Charges

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, overt act,Recently a San Francisco plainclothes police officer was found guilty of federal criminal charges after it came to light that he illegally searched the rooms of suspected drug users and then falsified police reports afterwards. The charges stem from an incident in 2010 when the officer got a tip that two suspects were in a particular hotel room with a large quantity of heroin. Rather than obtain a search warrant (which is what the Constitution would require), federal prosecutors argued the officer entered into a conspiracy with others to violate the civil rights of the hotel room occupants by entering the hotel room without a warrant.

Federal Statute Prohibiting Conspiracy Against Rights

The federal law under which the officer was charged makes it unlawful for two or more persons to conspire together to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege that person enjoys under the Constitution or federal law. If found guilty, a defendant can be sentenced to pay a fine or serve a term of imprisonment of up to 10 years; additional penalties can result if death results, or if certain other violent crimes are committed.

A conspiracy exists whenever two or more people agree to commit a specific criminal action and then one of these people commits an “overt act” that furthers the conspiracy along. There does not need to be a written agreement in order for a conspiracy to exist. In fact, the individuals involved in an alleged conspiracy do not need to even meet or interact directly. So long as the individuals are aware of one another and that one of them is doing some overt act to accomplish the aim of the conspiracy, the individuals can be charged with and convicted of a conspiracy.

Defending Against Conspiracy Charges

Conspiracy charges are serious federal criminal charges. Even minor participants can face serious penalties, simply by virtue of their knowledge of the actions of another. Successfully defending against conspiracy charges involves challenging the government’s evidence of the conspiracy’s existence and evidence of an “overt act.” Perhaps, for instance, evidence is weak that the defendant knew of the other conspiracy participants and what these individuals were up to. Such a showing may result in a not guilty verdict at a trial on conspiracy charges.

Or a federal criminal defense attorney can challenge the existence of an “overt act” in furtherance of the conspiracy. While the “overt act” does not need to be much, it generally must be more than simply preparing to take action.

If you find yourself charged with federal conspiracy charges, act quickly by contacting the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney at 312-270-0999. A successful defense to conspiracy charges depends on a thorough investigation into the government’s evidence. The sooner you retain experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney Hal M. Garfinkel, the sooner he can get to work gathering exculpatory evidence and crafting a winning defense to your charges.

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