How do courts assess criminal conspiracy charges in New York?

On Behalf of | Oct 22, 2021 | blog, Fraud

New York allows prosecutors to individually charge each person who is part of a criminal conspiracy regardless of how involved they were. Under the law, a conspiracy is when two or more individuals agree to commit a crime and take action toward that unlawful act. The action they take doesn’t have to be a crime because it’s the intention to break the law that counts.


In New York, simply being present around others who are planning a conspiracy isn’t enough for the court to consider this as the intention to commit a crime. You would have to engage in the planning to show intent. If you were to agree to be their getaway driver, then this counts as intention. Assisting someone else in any part of the planning would mean you are part of it and have intention. Another example is helping a friend scope out a house that he or she can burglarize. Not all conspiracies involve violent crimes either. Financial fraud could also count as a criminal conspiracy.


Some people misconstrue the agreement to commit a crime among individuals as a formal process. The law assesses unspoken, informal agreements as the intention and agreement between two or more individuals to commit a crime. Helping someone plan a crime means that you agree to it regardless of how minor your role is.


Discussing a crime is not enough for the court to charge people with a criminal conspiracy. Someone must have deliberately taken action toward executing the plan for it to count as a conspiracy. This action is easy to overlook. If you discuss robbing a bank with a friend, and he or she rents a car for the crime, the court will acknowledge this even if you two never actually followed through on robbing the bank. It only takes one person in the conspiracy to take action for the discussion to become a criminal conspiracy.

As the name suggests, you don’t need to follow through on committing the crime to face legal consequences for planning the crime. You don’t need to play a major role in the conspiracy to face equivalent charges either.