Defenses to Conspiracy to Commit Murder

Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerThe news of Joaquin Guzman, better known as ‘El Chapo,’ starting his life sentence this week made news around the country, and around the globe. The sentence came after Guzman was found guilty of a number of crimes, including conspiracy to commit murder. While a jury found Guzman guilty and he was largely known as a very violent criminal, not everyone accused of conspiracy to commit murder actually committed the act. Fortunately for these individuals, there are defenses available.

What Is Conspiracy to Commit Murder?

The federal crime of conspiring to commit murder is covered under 18 U.S. Code Section 1117. Under this code, it is unlawful to conspire, or plan, to kill internationally protected persons, law enforcement or government officials, or any other person.

It is important to understand that the act of murder does not have to happen in order for the prosecution to press conspiracy charges. The government must simply show that a person had plans to kill another person. If the murder did take place, a person will likely face both conspiracy charges and murder charges.

In a conspiracy case, the prosecution must prove the intent of the defendant, which is very difficult to do. If a person is unaware they are part of a conspiracy, they cannot be convicted of a crime. However, a person also does not need to be made aware of all the elements of the crime, either. As long as they know they are part of a conspiracy, they can face charges.

For those convicted, conspiracy to commit murder has very harsh penalties. There is no minimum sentence, and a person could spend the rest of their life in federal prison. Due to this, it is important any individual charged speak to a federal criminal defense attorney that can help.

Defenses to Conspiracy to Commit Murder

One of the most effective defenses in conspiracy to commit murder cases is abandonment or withdrawal. If the defendant can show that they communicated to their co-conspirators, in no uncertain terms, that they no longer wished to play a role in the conspired crime, this can be used as a defense. When using this argument, the defendant must also show that they took positive action to remove themselves from the conspiracy. They must also show they no longer communicate with their co-conspirators. This withdrawal must occur prior to the conspired act taking place.

Like all criminal cases, mistaken identity can also be used as a defense in conspiracy to commit murder cases. Sometimes, law enforcement and the prosecution simply get it wrong. When they do, and they accuse the wrong person of conspiracy to commit murder, it can be used as a defense to conspiracy to commit murder.

When law enforcement has persuaded someone to partake in conspiracy to commit murder, this is also a useful defense. To use it, the defendant must show they had no intention of committing a crime before communication with a law enforcement officer. They must also show the conspiracy was suggested by the officer first, and that the officer persuaded the defendant to conspire to commit the act.

Charged with a Federal Crime? Call an Illinois Federal Criminal Defense Attorney

Like all federal crimes, there are valid and effective defenses to the crime conspiracy to commit murder. However, no one should ever try to argue them on their own. A skilled Chicago federal criminal defense lawyer can give defendants their best chance of success in court. If you have been charged with a federal crime, call the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel at 312-270-0999 today for your free consultation. We are dedicated to helping those accused of crimes retain their freedom, and we want to help with your case, too.

Sources:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-mexico-el-chapo-idUSKCN1UE2GA

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1117

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