Differences Between Complicity And Conspiracy Criminal Theories

In many crimes committed by more than one person, you often hear of the terms "complicity" and "conspiracy." These two legal terms are distinct; they mean different things and attract different sentences.  

Conspiracy is an agreement to commit a crime; it may involve two or more parties who may both be individuals, both organizations, or an individual and an organization.  For example, if two pharmaceutical companies agree to fix prices of their products in the market, then they may be charged with conspiracy to fix prices.

Complicity, on the other hand, is the act of helping or encouraging another party (individual or organization) to commit a crime. In everyday language, people refer to complicity as "aiding and abetting." For example, if a financial firm advises or helps a CEO to cook a company's books and embezzle funds, then the firm will be charged as an accomplice to the CEO.

One of the greatest differences between the two criminal charges is that the crime doesn't have to occur before you are charged with conspiracy. For example, if you and your friends make plans to rob a bank, then you will be charged with conspiracy even if you are caught before the day of the robbery. You may only escape the charges if you withdraw from the plan and take the necessary steps to prevent the robbery. For example, you can prevent the robbery by informing the police about it, and you should do so in time for them to stop your friends.

This is unlike an accomplice charge, which you can only face if the actual crime is committed. For example, if you were planning to rob a bank but you change your mind before the robbery, then you are not an accomplice even if your friends go ahead and do it. However, don't think that you will just go scot-free, your may still be charged as a conspirator.

Additionally, if you are charged as a conspirator, then you may be charged with other crimes committed by your co-conspirators even if you didn't know about them. This is likely to be the case if the other crimes were committed in furtherance of the original crime or as a result of the original crime. For example, if you rob a bank, and your co-conspirators use the money to buy illegal weapons, then you may also face illegal weapon charges.

Knowing the difference between these two kinds of crimes is important because they attract different sentences. For this reason, if you are accused of either a conspiracy or complicity, you should explain everything to your defense attorney. He or she may know how to counter the charges or reduce their severity. For more information, contact a firm such as Devine Law PC.