Conspiracy in the Military Justice System
Conspiracy is one of the most misunderstood areas of the law from the layperson’s point of view. There are many opinions as to what constitutes a conspiracy, and often it’s these misinformed opinions that get people into trouble.
In the military, those found guilty of conspiracy may be subject to a court martial. It may seem that the law is far sterner with respect to conspiracy and, in some aspects, it is. Prosecutors believe that when individuals conspire to commit a crime, it makes the crime far more difficult to detect and therefore increases the chance that the perpetrators will get away with the crime.
What is the Groundwork for Conspiracy?
The person that has been charged with the conspiracy is believed to have made an agreement with one or more people to commit a crime. As long as this agreement remains in place, those involved are equally party to the crime if and when it is committed.
Conspiracy gets more interesting, yet somewhat confusing, with the following example. Let’s assume two parties were charged in a conspiracy to rob a bank. One individual actually committed the crime. For some reason during his trial, this individual was acquitted of the conspiracy part of the charge. This does not automatically mean that the second individual – who was charged with the conspiracy portion only – will be acquitted as well, based on the ruling of the perpetrator.
A conspiracy doesn’t necessarily have to be entered into by verbal means only. It is sufficient for a conspiracy to have been formed as long as both parties to the conspiracy understand what is intended. Many times the conduct of the conspirators alone is enough for a charge to be laid.
What has been outlined so far is one side of the law. The other side states that just because an individual was, for example, in the same room where a crime was committed or planned does not automatically mean that the individual conspired to be part of the crime.
These are just the basics of the conspiracy charge itself. Most often, conspiracy charges become far more complex and intertwined. Multiple conspiracy charges can evolve out of a single case. In this event, the total circumstances surrounding the entire case have to be analyzed in order to determine if just one charge of conspiracy should be laid, or whether there is a justification for multiple charges of conspiracy to be laid.
Once it has been established that a conspiracy did exist, it doesn’t take much additional proof to establish a connection between the parties. What may have initially been considered a weak conspiracy case can quite suddenly gain momentum.
What has been covered here is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the law. Hopefully it has been a bit of an eye opener for those who perceive conspiracy as a simple, straightforward charge.