21 USC 846 – also known as the Federal Drug Conspiracy Statute – criminalizes the act of making an agreement with another person to commit a federal drug crime, and then taking some action to further this agreement. (This action is called an “overt act”). Those convicted can be subjected to severe penalties, including decades behind bars (depending on the nature of the charge and the past history of the defendant). At minimum, a conviction of a conspiracy to violate federal drug statutes carries a 10-year sentence in a federal penitentiary.
Many police agencies and investigators prefer to file their cases in Federal Court pursuant to this statue for a variety of reasons. For one, prosecutors believe that use of the Conspiracy Statute can make their job easier because the statute can skirt the so-called Hearsay Rule, and allow defendants to be convicted on hearsay statements of people who are found to be a part of the conspiracy.
Further, if a federal prosecutor can show that you participated in a conspiracy, you can be charged with crimes that others in your group committed, even if you weren’t involved at all. For instance, if, during the course of a drug buy, one of your co-conspirators killed a liquor store clerk, you could also be hit with a murder charge. Even if you don’t know your co-conspirators, you can still be held liable for their actions.
Prosecutors may try to expose your “overt acts” as a co-conspirator. An overt act need not be a criminal act. It could be something like meeting with a co-conspirator at a city motel and paying all cash for your room. The point is to establish in a juror’s mind that you participated in the conspiracy and intended to commit criminal acts, as defined by federal drug statutes, in furtherance of the conspiracy.
Battling back against charges under 21 USC 846 can present serious challenges for defendants and their legal representatives. To that end, you want to find a federal criminal defense lawyer who has the credentials and experience to help you build your most accurate and thorough strategic response to the Federal Indictment against you.