In Canadian law, conspiracy occurs when two or more people form an agreement to commit an offence listed in the Criminal Code. This decision does not have to be recorded in writing or in any other tangible sense. It can be verbal or implicit.
The charge of conspiracy is different from others in the code because an individual does not need to participate in the performance of the specific act to be charged under this provision. The mere involvement and knowledge of the plan are sufficient to prove the charge. If an individual is part of the conspiracy but does not participate in carrying out the actual plan, they may still be charged.
At Roulston Urquhart, we are experienced in defending conspiracy charges at all levels of severity. Our criminal defence lawyers in Calgary are prepared to provide representation to any individual facing allegations of conspiracy.
What are the requirements of a conspiracy charge?
The Crown Prosecutor must prove numerous elements for the charge of conspiracy. Like other criminal offences, the identity of the accused, the location, as well as the date and time of the alleged occurrence must be proven. Specific to the charge of conspiracy, the Crown must show there was an agreement made and communication between the parties.
The agreement must be to commit a criminal code offence. Furthermore, there must be knowledge of the specific purpose of the plan and the intention to commit the criminal code offence stipulated in the agreement.
What can be used as evidence of conspiracy?
There is an exception to hearsay for collecting evidence in a conspiracy charge that allows other members of the conspiracy to provide testimony against the accused. This means that statements of a co-conspirator are permissible. However, it is important to note that this hearsay exception only applies to accounts directly connected to the suspected conspiracy and not about the accused in general. The prosecution can also rely on other forms of evidence such as texts, emails, or documentation of other types of communication.
What is the punishment for a conspiracy charge?
Conspiracy is listed as s.465 of the Canadian Criminal Code. The accused may be charged with a single offence or in addition to the act that was committed. The type of criminal act planned for the conspiracy charge determines if the accused faces a summary or indictable offence. A summary charge is for lesser offences and may result in a fine, various types of probation or a maximum jail term of two years less a day. An indictable offence is more serious and can result in much more severe sentences. This involves greater fines and increased jail terms, including the risk of life in prison for the most severe offences.
Who may face conspiracy charges?
The charge of conspiracy can stem from countless scenarios since the offence to be committed can include both summary and indictable offences. Often when people think of conspiracy, they picture the stereotypical gang member. Groups such as the Hells Angels have faced allegations of conspiracy to commit murder or drug trafficking. However, individuals may also face conspiracy charges for crimes of lesser severity such as theft or fraud.