When you’re charged with a crime, both sides will present evidence of guilt or innocence.  However, most times, this evidence needs to carry with it quite a bit of credibility.  For example, merely stating that the person didn’t like you and your car was sitting in your driveway for 12 hours isn’t enough to prove that person keyed your car.  However, having a witness who saw someone who looked like the defendant key your car would help your case.

What Is Circumstantial Evidence In A Conspiracy Charge?

Courts tend to be a bit more liberal when it comes to proving an agreement existed to commit a crime.  The reason for this is that there isn’t likely to be much direct testimony that an agreement between criminals was reached.  While criminals may have many conversations about their plan to rob a bank or commit murder, if they decide not to testify, then the prosecutor is extremely limited in what type of evidence they could present.

Recognizing this issue, courts have allowed a prosecutor to show a conspiracy by circumstantial evidence.  However, the circumstantial evidence must strongly suggest that there was a common plan, not that the defendant’s simply talked about committing a crime.  For example, if the defendant’s claim to be “citizens” of the Republic of Antartica (ROA) while living in Boise, Idaho; but they believe they are ancestors of ancient explorers and are ready to take back what belongs to them.  In the middle of a stake-out by FBI agents, several ROA members shoot and would some of the agents and kill a local policeman.  The gunmen, and several other ROA members are charged with conspiracy to assault a Federal officer because the attack seemed to be coordinated.

So long as there is strong evidence that the shoot-out had a common plan and showed concerted action, the ROA members can be convicted.  If the ROA members had highly regimented “combat-win” drills to train for an anticipated attack by law enforcement personnel, it would reinforce this notion that they were not trying to defend their land, but rather had an agreement.

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