Conspiracy is the planned execution of a crime involving more than one person. Under California law, conspiracy to commit murder carries penalties mirroring the underlying murder charge. If you or someone close to you is facing investigation or charges for conspiracy to commit murder, the experienced Riverside County homicide lawyer Gregory H. Comings can assist you. We help people by assessing the facts of a case and work to minimize or reduce criminal charges for violent crimes such as murder. Attorney Comings takes pride in offering honest and accessible legal representation, personally handling each client’s case.
California Penal Code Section 182 PC defines conspiracy, making it illegal to intentionally enter into an agreement with others to commit a crime, and to act in furtherance of this crime. Conspiracy to commit murder, as set forth in Penal Code 189, requires the prosecution prove the defendant: (1) intentionally entered into an agreement to intentionally, and unlawfully, kill; (2) committed an overt act in furtherance of the agreement; and, (3) committed this overt act in California. Similar to attempted murder, the crime of murder need not have occurred for a defendant to be liable for conspiracy to murder.
To convict a defendant of conspiracy to commit murder, there must be evidence of an intention to enter into an agreement to kill. An agreement may be inferred from conduct, if the defendants are shown to have a common purpose to commit the crime. The intention must be to unlawfully kill. If a defendant believes the agreement is a joke, and that the group will not actually harm the victim, then this defendant does not harbor the intent to kill.
An inferred agreement could include meeting in a parking lot to plan a murder. Even if the murder does not occur, the defendants may be guilty of conspiracy to commit murder if the evidence shows that they deliberated and took an overt act in furtherance of their agreement.
An “overt act” is an act completed to help the group execute the crime. This act must take place after the defendant enters into the agreement, but before the crime is complete. While the overt act need not be the crime itself, it must be more than agreeing or planning the crime. For example, purchasing a gun before conspiring to commit murder may be an overt act. An overt act shows the seriousness of the plan.
Conspiracy to commit murder is a felony crime according to California law. According to California Penal Code Section 182, a defendant that conspires to commit murder may be punished in the same manner, and to the same extent, as someone punished for murder. In most cases the punishment is the same as first-degree murder.
A capable defense attorney may be able to assert a defense that reduces or dismisses your criminal charges. First, if an element of the crime of conspiracy is not demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt, then the prosecution will not be able to convict the defendant. For example, if there is no evidence of an overt act completed to help the crime, then a conviction cannot stand. Additionally, if the defendant did not have the specific intent to murder, for example, if they were intoxicated, then a charge for first degree murder may be reduced to manslaughter.
Evidence that the defendant no longer wanted to participate in the alleged conspiracy may support the legal defense of withdrawal. Withdrawing from a conspiracy agreement is a defense, if the defendant affirmatively communicated their withdrawal before someone committed an overt act that furthered the crime. Another legal defense is false accusations, which may apply when the defendant has been falsely accused of being involved in a conspiracy.
Conspiracy to commit murder is a complex crime. People throughout the county of Riverside in need of legal representation will receive compassionate advocacy at The Law Office of Gregory H.Comings. We extend our legal services to clients throughout Temecula, Moreno Valley, Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Indio, Highland, Redlands, Fontana, Rancho Cucamonga and Riverside. You can reach our office by calling (951) 686-3457 or by contacting us online.