Conspiracy is a serious criminal offence in New South Wales and can carry significant penalties.
Broadly speaking, it is an agreement between two or more people to commit an unlawful act or to use unlawful means to achieve a lawful end.
In NSW, the Crimes Act 1900 defines conspiracy as when someone agrees with one or more persons to do any of the following:
- commit an indictable offence;
- prevent the due administration of justice; or
- defeat or obstruct the course of justice.
What are the Elements of Conspiracy?
Conspiracy in New South Wales has three distinct elements, each of which must be satisfied to establish an offence. Firstly, it must be demonstrated that two or more people agreed to commit an unlawful act. Secondly, it must be demonstrated that the agreement was made with the intention of carrying out the unlawful act. Lastly, the parties to the agreement must have the necessary mens rea for the offence.
What is a common law conspiracy in NSW?
A common law conspiracy in New South Wales is an agreement between two or more people to commit a criminal act, where the parties have the intention to carry out the unlawful act, and have a demonstrable mens rea for the alleged offence. This offence is not codified under the statute but has been established through centuries of legal precedents. Common law conspiracy in NSW is a serious offence, leading to significant penalties if convicted.
Examples of Conspiracy Charges cases in NSW
In New South Wales, several conspiracy cases have been successfully prosecuted. In 2013, four men were convicted for conspiring to commit fraud on the NSW Department of Education and Training. The men had hatched a plan to defraud the department by submitting false documents in order to receive payment for goods and services they had yet to actually provide.
In another case, a group of conspirators were charged with conspiring to transport firearms from New South Wales into Western Australia. The accused had made plans to use false identities and fake documentation in order to conceal the weapons during their journey across state lines.
In 2017, two men were found guilty of conspiring to supply prohibited drugs after they were caught transporting large quantities of cocaine from Sydney to Melbourne. They had arranged to purchase the narcotics from another man before organising their own transportation arrangements without alerting authorities.
Finally, in 2019, six people were charged with conspiring to commit grievous bodily harm after engaging in an altercation at a public park. The defendants had allegedly agreed prior to the incident that they would use violence against another individual if provoked during the altercation.
What Defences Can Be Used Against Conspiracy Charges?
One defence against conspiracy charges is that the accused did not actually form an agreement with any other person to commit a crime. This can be shown by demonstrating that there was no meeting of the minds between two or more people about committing a criminal act.
Another defence is that the accused was merely present when a crime occurred and did not participate in the criminal activity. The lack of participation may be proven through evidence such as surveillance video or witness testimony.
In some cases, it may also be possible to prove duress, which is when an individual agrees to take part in a criminal act due to threats or pressure from others. To prove this, it must be shown that there was an immediate threat of violence and that the accused had no reasonable means of escape.
It is also possible to argue ignorance or mistake at law, which occurs when a person believes they are taking part in lawful activity and later finds out it was illegal. In these cases, there must be proof that the defendant did not know the act they were participating in was wrong or illegal.
Finally, individuals may also use entrapment as a defence against conspiracy charges, which occurs when law enforcement officers induce someone into committing a crime they would otherwise have not committed. This defence requires evidence showing that law enforcement officers encouraged the accused to commit the offence and/or used unfair tactics to get them to agree to participate in the criminal act.
What the Prosecutor Needs to Prove in Conspiracy Charges in NSW
In conspiracy charges, the prosecutor must be able to prove that there was an agreement between two or more people to commit a criminal act. To do this, they must establish that all parties were aware of the criminal plan and willingly participated in it.
The prosecutor must also show that one party had the intention to enter into a criminal agreement with at least one other person and that there was an overt act committed by at least one of the parties to further the plan. An overt act refers to any physical action taken by one party in furtherance of a criminal scheme. This could include arranging meetings, planning strategies or even distributing materials related to the crime.
The prosecutor must also be able to demonstrate that each party fully understood the nature and scope of the desired outcome, which would typically involve committing some form of illegal activity such as theft or fraud. Finally, they must prove beyond reasonable doubt that each participant intended to participate in bringing about actual criminal outcomes through their actions.
What are the charges of conspiracy to commit in NSW?
Conspiracy charges in NSW are taken very seriously by the judicial system. If found guilty, the penalties can be severe and life-changing. Conspiracy charges relate to the planning or agreement of two or more people to commit a criminal offence. Even if the actual crime is not committed, individuals can still be charged and convicted of conspiracy. Penalties can range from fines to imprisonment for many years, depending on the severity and nature of the conspiracy. It is crucial to have the right legal representation when faced with conspiracy charges as the consequences can be grave.