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Defend conspiracy Charges

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Frequently Asked Questions

In Canada, a conspiracy charge does not require the completion of the intended crime. The mere agreement to commit a crime is sufficient for conspiracy charges to be laid. Conspiracy involves coordination between two or more individuals, amplifying the potential harm compared to solitary criminal acts. Thus, Canadian law proactively seeks to prevent such collaborations with the aim of averting potential damage from these agreements.

Conspiracy charges can get a bit complicated because there are cases where some people drop out of the plan and/or it is unclear who is involved in the conspiracy. However, it is important to note that as long as there is a predominant, ongoing plan, this can be enough to constitute conspiracy. This means that there does not actually need to be steps made toward pursuing the actual underlying crime. Even more perplexing is that conspiracy charges do not always need direct evidencecircumstantial evidence could be garnered to build a case of conspiracy. Moreover, there needs to be evidence that each accused person had awareness of the crime and agreed to participate, or that they formally agreed to the crime and adhered to the plan.

Even if the actual plan is not feasible or practical, a conspiracy charge can still be laid. It is the intention of the conspirators that matters ultimately. Attempt to commit conspiracy is not considered to constitute a crime. So, even if someone attempted to plan to commit a crime, this is far too remote to be considered a conspiracy charge. The difference can be confusing, and therefore it it’s important to have a skilled and knowledgeable lawyer when being charged with conspiracy.

Bail for Conspiracy Charges

When police arrest someone on a conspiracy charge, they may opt to release the accused from the station or detain them for a bail hearing. The decision primarily hinges on how serious the underlying linked crime is and the defendant’s criminal history. First-time offenders are generally treated more leniently than repeat offenders. Usually, conspiracy to commit an indictable offence will lead to a bail hearing, whereas conspiracy for a summary conviction offence may not. The “Antic principles” guide these decisions, focusing on a variety of factors such as the likelihood of the accused committing another offence, the importance of their attendance in court, and the risk to public safety.

A conspiracy charge involves an agreement, whether implicit or explicit, between at least two individuals to commit a criminal offence. The offence of conspiracy is always linked to a secondary, or underlying, crime. For instance, conspiracy to commit murder connects to the crime of murder itself.

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Proving Conspiracy Charges

To prove a conspiracy charge, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was an agreement between the conspirators to commit a crime, and that this was done with intent. The simple act of agreeing could be enough to constitute a conspiracy charge, even if the defendants were not successful in completing the underlying offence.

There does not always have to be direct evidence to successfully convict someone of the crime of conspiracy. The evidence can also be implicitly conveyed from the behaviour and nonverbal forms of communication of the defendants. This can be a tricky topic, and therefore it is highly advisable to seek a knowledgeable and skilled lawyer to help you navigate these nuanced offences.

Often times, there is no direct evidence for conspiracy because the illicit agreement is not explicitly put down in writing. This can make it difficult for the prosecutor to prove these elusive kinds of cases. As such, there is an exception to the hearsay rule for co-conspirators. This allows other people involved in the conspiracy to testify about other conspirators in regard to what acts and declarations were made in the planning of the underlying crime.

What’s a Crime in Canada?

Penalty for Conspiracy Charges

The penalty for a conspiracy charge aligns with the seriousness of the planned crime. For instance, if charged with conspiracy to commit murder, the defendant could receive penalties equal to those for murder, which could be incarceration for life. However, penalties can differ significantly depending on the particular nature of the conspiracy and the underlying connecting offence, in recognition of the idea that not all conspiracies pose the same level of risk to society. As a result, there needs to be different levels of penalties.

If you are charged with conspiracy and the underlying crime is an indictable offence, the penalties will be more on the serious end. Some examples of indictable offences include theft over $5,000 and murder.

If you are charged with conspiracy and the prosecutor chooses to pursue the case summarily, the maximum penalty is two years less a day in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.

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Recent Cases

R. v. N.K., 2014 ONSC 3093

This case involved charges of conspiracy to offer a bribe to foreign public officials under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. It was one of the first cases where an individual was found guilty under this Act in Canada, demonstrating the enforcement of anti-corruption laws on an international level. The appellate court agreed that there does not need to be any evidence that the conspiracy went beyond mere agreement. The defendants put forth $450,000 that they planned to use for the purpose of bribing state officials.

While the bribery scheme ended up failing, it is important to note that the defendants were still found guilty of conspiracy. This shows how the mere agreement to perform a certain crime could constitute conspiracy. However, the fact that the agreement to commit a crime ultimately fell through can sometimes be used as a mitigating factor as it was in this case. The accused also received a lighter sentence because he testified against his co-conspirators and confessed to being a co-conspirator himself.

Some aggravating factors were that the defendant concocted a highly sophisticated plan, had a sense of entitlement in that he did not see any harm in what he was doing, and even went as far as to place fake bids in order to make the bidding process look more competitive and legitimate.

R v Nestlé Canada Inc. et al. v. Ship Viljandi et al., (2002) 230 F.T.R. 99 (TD)

In this case, numerous large chocolate companies were accused of price-fixing under conspiracy charges. The case involved complicated challenges about the level of evidence needed to prove conspiracy. This case centered around issues of corporate collusion and price manipulation. This was part of a larger investigation that impacted many major corporations throughout the world.

In this case, the Crown had troubles with actually proving that the price-fixing actually created an “undue lessened competition” in regard to the sale of chocolate. Nestle was accused of working with other major corporations to collectively increase the price of chocolate from 4% to 8% over a period of six years. Executives from these major companies occasionally had in-person meetings at restaurants and convention centres, which was later used as evidence for conspiracy.

Toronto 18

This case involved 18 individuals were accused of plotting to commit several terrorist acts in Canada, including bombings, a plan to storm the Parliament, and to obtain hostages. The case was significant for its gravity and large-scale nature. The case was also notable for the use of conspiracy to address potential terrorism, which involved extensive surveillance and undercover investigations by Canadian law enforcement.

The purpose of this conspiracy was to create chaos on the public streets of Toronto as a way to scare Canada into withdrawing their troops from a war in Afghanistan. The conspiracy involved egregious plans to behead the Prime Minister and open fire in the streets. Even though some of these plans were highly impractical, the intent is still the same. As such, the conspiracy to commit such heinous crimes can be given the same penalties as if the crime was successfully carried out.

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About the Author

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Jordan Donich

Jordan Donich has been a Lawyer for over 10 years and is a trusted legal analyst by Canadian Media. He is as a leader in Canada’s tech sector for lawyers and developer of Law Newbie. Jordan is a Black Belt with the Japan Karate Association and trained in Krav Maga. He won a Gold Medal at 2004 Canadian National Championships and was published in the National Newspaper Awards.

Jordan has been featured in Forbes and is a member of DMZ Angels in Toronto.