Criminal conspiracy charges in South Carolina carry the potential of jail time, fines and other penalties. You can fight conspiracy charges with the help of an experienced attorney. Contact Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey, LLC at (864) 920-2709 to talk to a criminal defense attorney in Greenville about your case.
What is Criminal Conspiracy in South Carolina?
Criminal conspiracy is prohibited by South Carolina Code § 16-17-410. It is illegal to combine with others for the purpose of doing something unlawful. Conspiracy may involve doing something unlawful or doing something lawful using unlawful means.
Elements of Criminal Conspiracy in South Carolina
To be guilty of criminal conspiracy, the state must prove the following elements:
- Two or more people
- Combining with each other
- For an unlawful act or lawful act by unlawful means
The statute doesn’t explain what it means for people to combine. However, an offender must have a general idea of the plan.
Penalty for Criminal Conspiracy in South Carolina
Criminal conspiracy is a felony in South Carolina. It is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Conspiracy charge jail time limitations
Even though the maximum penalty set by law for conspiracy is five years, there are some circumstances where the maximum potential penalty is less. A person may not receive a greater penalty for conspiracy than for the underlying offense.
For example, purse snatching (S.C. Code § 16-13-150) is punishable by up to three years of incarceration. A person convicted of conspiracy to snatch purses can’t receive more than a three-year sentence even though conspiracy carries a maximum possible penalty of five years’ incarceration.
Examples of criminal conspiracy
- Two people agree to rob a convenience store. They purchase clothing and weapons, and make a plan to flee the crime scene.
- Workers at a medical office conspire to commit healthcare billing fraud. Doctors make reports of services that were never performed. Medical billers are aware the services weren’t performed, but they submit invoices anyway.
- Someone who handles sensitive customer information in their job steals personal information. They pass it off to a third person who runs fraudulent credit card transactions.
- A person asks an intended victim where they plan to be on a certain day. They pass the information along to someone else with a plan to break into the victim’s house while they are away.
Defenses to Criminal Conspiracy
Defenses that may be pursued for criminal conspiracy charges include:
- There was no conspiracy, no agreement existed to commit a crime
- Nothing illegal was planned or intended
- The defendant was unassuming, they didn’t know that others were planning a crime
- Mistaken identity
- Abandonment or withdraw from the plan
How do you fight conspiracy charges?
The best way to fight conspiracy charges depends on the circumstances of your individual case. Evaluate the state’s proof of each element. You have the right to a trial, and you may call witnesses and present evidence. You may file preliminary motions.
What category of crime does conspiracy fall under?
Conspiracy is a specific intent crime. The category requires the offender to specifically intend for the consequences of the crime to occur. They must intend not only their actions but also the specific results.
Court cases about criminal conspiracy in South Carolina
State v. Hightower, 221 S.C. 91 (1952) (Co-conspirators need not be named in an indictment).
State v. Rutledge, 232 S.C. 223 (1957) (Affirming the defendant’s conviction for conspiracy, saying that the trier of fact weighs the evidence, even if the only evidence is the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice.)
Lawyer for Criminal Conspiracy Charges in South Carolina
Criminal conspiracy charges in South Carolina are complex. Penalties may include years in prison. Don’t fight the charges alone. Contact Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey for a consultation with a lawyer. Learn what defenses may be available to you and how our legal team can help. Message us today or call (864) 920-2709 to begin.