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How can a person defend himself against conspiracy charges?

Compromise and agreement are essential for St. Louis residents when dealing with each other. Whether it is in the context of a marriage or other familial relationship, in the business world or just in conversing with other individuals, individuals have often been taught from a young age how important it is to compromise with others and reach agreement in order to get things accomplished.

In the criminal justice system, however, a simple agreement can be the subject of serious criminal charges. When allegations of conspiracy are raised against St. Louis residents, it can turn into a serious case that carry strict penalties if a person is convicted of the charges.

Typically, a conspiracy in criminal law simply means a person agreed with another person to engage in unlawful conduct. It is the agreement itself, and not the actual commission of the crime, that constitutes a crime when it comes to conspiracy. In addition, the agreement that lies at the heart of a conspiracy can be far reaching, as a person can be found guilty of conspiring with another person, even if he or she does not know the identity of the person on the other end of the agreement.

However, there are certain restrictions in Missouri's conspiracy statute that can provide legal defenses to the charges. For example, in order to be convicted of a conspiracy, a person typically must commit an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy. Accordingly, something beyond the mere agreement may be required, such as some planning or steps to carry out the agreement.

In addition, even if a person conspired to commit an offense, the person cannot be convicted of conspiracy if he or she later prevented the crime from taking place. Accordingly, there can be issues in conspiracy cases with whether a person withdrew from the conspiracy after it was initially formed. These issues can become complicated, particularly in dealing with white collar crime, and therefore it is essential that individuals have a strong understanding of the charges and the law before proceeding with their case.

Source: Missouri Revised Statutes, "Section 564.016.1," Aug. 28, 2014

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