The previous section of this entry discussed the importance of choosing the correct representation for legal matters in Missouri on a general basis. This section discusses a specific type of crime that is often dismissed by the accused as unimportant or non-threatening: conspiracy.
One potential cause for this widespread misconception is that certain conspiracy cases do not carry the possibility of extreme consequences. Should a defendant be found guilty of conspiracy to commit a minor felony, for example, the maximum sentence might correspond to that of a misdemeanor. Therefore, it is true that conspiracy charges are less severe than the charges for the crimes in which the alleged conspirators are involved, and that some conspiracy guilty verdicts do not carry mandatory jail time.
Conspiracy is, however, not a drastically reduced offense. As found on the Missouri Revisor of Statutes website, the law states that conspiracy charges are only single degree lower than the crime itself. Also according to the law, conspiracy charges may be not be defended on the basis of the accused not knowing the identity of the other criminal party. In this way, the state might file criminal charges against people who have committed no crimes— with the exception of conspiracy, of course— with people they do not know.
Referring to the Missouri Revisor of Statutes once again, it is clear that reduction of class of an offense by a single degree does have benefits in certain conditions. For example, a conspirator would be charged with a class D felony if he or she were involved in a class C felony, such as:
- Identity theft
- Production of a controlled substance
- 2nd degree drug trafficking
According to the statutes, someone guilty of conspiracy to commit these or any other class C felony would not be subject to the minimum prison sentence of a class C crime. Instead, the defendant could face a maximum imprisonment of 7 years. It is therefore apparent that, while conspiracy charges might not be as severe as the crimes with which they are associated, defendants would still do well to take them seriously.