Federal Conspiracy Statutes

There are a number of statutes that set out the federal crime of conspiracy, depending on what the object of the conspiracy is. A white-collar criminal case in federal court very frequently contains a conspiracy charge. Looking at the statute that defines the charge - so you know what the government has to prove - is an important step in learning about a white-collar criminal case that you may be involved in.

Here are some of the most important federal conspiracy statutes for white-collar cases. Though please bear in mind that there are other kinds of conspiracy charges that federal prosecutors can bring, depending on the kind of case. 

The general conspiracy statute is 18 U.S.C. § 371:

18 U.S. Code § 371 - Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud United States

If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

If, however, the offense, the commission of which is the object of the conspiracy, is a misdemeanor only, the punishment for such conspiracy shall not exceed the maximum punishment provided for such misdemeanor.

Conspiracy to Commit Mail or Wire Fraud

Eighteen U.S.C. § 1349 makes it a separate crime to conspire to commit mail or wire fraud. Here's the full text of that statute:

Any person who attempts or conspires to commit any offense under this chapter shall be subject to the same penalties as those prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the attempt or conspiracy.

The chapter referred to in that section is Chapter 63 of Part I of Title 18 of the United States Code. Probably the most significant section in that Chapter is the definition of mail fraud in Section 1341:

Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, or to sell, dispose of, loan, exchange, alter, give away, distribute, supply, or furnish or procure for unlawful use any counterfeit or spurious coin, obligation, security, or other article, or anything represented to be or intimated or held out to be such counterfeit or spurious article, for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice or attempting so to do, places in any post office or authorized depository for mail matter, any matter or thing whatever to be sent or delivered by the Postal Service, or deposits or causes to be deposited any matter or thing whatever to be sent or delivered by any private or commercial interstate carrier, or takes or receives therefrom, any such matter or thing, or knowingly causes to be delivered by mail or such carrier according to the direction thereon, or at the place at which it is directed to be delivered by the person to whom it is addressed, any such matter or thing, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.
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