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New Jersey Conspiracy Laws (N.J.S. 2C:5-2)

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The crime of conspiracy is an agreement between two or more individuals to perform together a wrongful or otherwise illegal act. In criminal law, when two or more people conspire to commit a crime at some point in the future, it is considered "conspiracy."

The crime of conspiracy is covered under The New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice Section 2C:5-2:

  • Under Section 2C:5-2, a person is guilty of conspiracy when along with another person, he or she agrees that one or more of them will engage in criminal conduct or an attempt, or they will solicit someone to commit such crime; or
  • Such person agrees to aid another person or persons in the planning or committing of such crime or an attempt or a solicitation to commit such crime.

As far as the scope of the conspiratorial relationship, a person is guilty of conspiracy as long as they know that a person with whom they are conspiring to commit a crime has conspired with another person or persons to commit the same crime. The actor is guilty of committing conspiracy, even if they don't actually know the other person's or persons' identity to commit said crime.

When a person conspires with multiple objectives in mind or multiple crimes, he or she is still only guilty of one conspiracy, as long as such multiple crimes are the object of the same agreement or the same conspiratorial relationship between the actors.

Overt Act: Furthering the Crime

In most countries and in the state of New Jersey, conspiracies generally require that at least one overt act has been taken in order to further the agreement. In criminal law, the overt act is an act that can be clearly shown by evidence in which criminal intent can be proved, as opposed to someone's mere intention in their mind to commit a crime. For example, catching video footage of someone hiring a hit man to kill their spouse would show that the person took action to commit the crime of murder.

Under New Jersey's conspiracy statute, no person may be convicted of conspiracy to commit a crime other than a crime in the first or the second degree, or distribution or possession with the intent to distribute a dangerous controlled substance or a controlled substance analog as defined under Chapter 35 of this title.

New Jersey Penalties for Conspiracy

Under Section 2C:5-4, an attempt or conspiracy to commit a crime of the first degree is a crime in the second degree; except where the attempt or conspiracy was to commit murder or terrorism, in which case it is a first degree felony, providing the person attempted or conspired to murder or commit terrorism of five or more people, the actor shall be sentenced to a 30 year term of imprisonment, during which time the actor will not be eligible for parole, or they shall be sentenced to a term between 30 years and life in prison, of which time the person must serve no less than 30 years before they are eligible for parole.

Other than the above, an attempt is a crime of the same degree as the most serious crime which is attempted, and the crime of conspiracy is the same degree that is the object of the conspiracy. Any attempt or conspiracy to commit a crime defined by law outside of the code shall be graded as a crime of the same degree as the offense.

Common conspiracy crimes include: conspiracy to defraud, conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit terrorism, conspiracy to kidnap someone, conspiracy to trespass and so on. As you can see, a mere attempt or an overt act to commit conspiracy can land you in prison for years and incur harsh monetary fines depending on the facts surrounding the case, even if the crime was never carried out. Just because you are facing conspiracy charges, it doesn't mean you are actually guilty of conspiracy. At my firm, I can begin tailoring a powerful defense strategy on your behalf and doing everything possible to pursue reduced, if not dropped charges on your behalf.

If you are being accused of conspiracy in New Jersey, I urge you to contact my firm, The Law Offices of Christopher G. Porreca, P.C.

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