CONSPIRACY DEFENCE LAWYER

Conspiracy Lawyer Ottawa • Conspiracy Lawyer Toronto

What is a Conspiracy Offence

A criminal conspiracy involves an agreement between two or more people to carry out a criminal activity, and action on each of their parts in furtherance of the conspiracy beyond mere preparation. The actual activity that's the subject of the conspiracy doesn't need to have been accomplished in order for their to be an offence.

Conspiracy under s. 465 of the Criminal Code is sometimes charged as a standalone criminal offence where multiple people are accused of doing something, and it's unclear exactly who did what, whiile at other times its simply an ancillary charge to other substantive offences like drug importation. 

Why Fight a Conspiracy Charge

Conspiracy is a very serious allegation as it's punishable by the same punishment as the substantive offence - which could be life imprisonment! However, the prosecution faces many legal and factual challenges in proving beyond a reasonable doubt that you're guilty of the offence of conspiracy because of the somewhat intangible nature of the offence. A criminal defence lawyer skilled in dealing with conspiracy cases has several potential routes of attack against a conspiracy charge.

The earlier a lawyer intervenes on your behalf in a conspiracy investigation or prosecution, the better your chances of beating the charge: 

  • the prosecutors and police might be convinced that no offence was in fact committed;
  • charges might not be laid against you even if they are laid against others;
  • any evidence might be excluded from court before charges are even laid, or at least before any trial.;
  • a trial may collapse because of its complexity, or your role at trial may be minimized;
  • even after conviction an appeal might be possible - the more complex the prosecution, generally the more prone it will be to successful appeal to a higher court, and conspiracy cases are always complex. 

How to Win a Conspiracy Trial: 6 Best Conspiracy Charge Defence Tactics

1. Conspiring to conspire is not an offence

There must be a substantive offence linked to the conspiracy charge, like drug trafficking, or bank robbery. Just talking or acting in general ways about getting up to no good is not an offence, and is protected by Charter guarantees of free speech. 

2. All talk and no action is not an offence

You must have done something in the conspiracy beyond mere preparation and discussion, and actually taken some action to advance the conspiracy. 

3. Wiretap evidence supporting conspiracy charges may be inadmissible

Wiretap evidence intercepting your telephone calls to other alleged members of the conspiracy may be the only evidence against you. Because of the onerous requirements imposed by Parliament that police must meet to obtain a wiretap, challenging the validity of the wiretap order and arguing that its fruits are inadmissible into evidence can be a successful defence tactic.

4. Search warrant or other evidence supporting conspiracy may be inadmissible

Conspiracies charges might be based solely on emails, documents, or other evidence seized as a result of search warrants or production orders. Canadian Charter protections against unreasonable search and seizure mean that much of this "evidence" might be inadmissible in court if not validly seized.

5. While a dry conspiracy can be an offence it is a pain to prove

Even if the substantive offence which the conspiracy focussed on doesn't happen - the drugs never arrive, the bank is never robbed - there still can be an offence of conspiracy, but it becomes more problematic for the prosecution to prove. The prosecution might be convinced it's not in the public interest to prosecute you for it if your role and the nature of the planned act can be minimized.

6. Prosecuting 80 co-conspirators collapses prosecutions

Yes, we've seen it attempted. It didn't go well for the prosecution (who tried to split them into four groups of 20 each). Even prosecuting 20 people simultaneously may cause a case to collapse. Imagine 20 defence lawyers against one or two prosecutors, and the huge amount of time such a trial would take. Every Crown witness would be cross-examined 20 times.