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Sentencing for conspiracy charges

What is the sentence for conspiracy charges in 2024?

The definition of conspiracy is when two or more people get together to create a plan to behave in a way that leads to committing an offence; in effect, it’s when somebody agrees to take any action that will involve the undertaking of a crime.

conspiracy charges

Conspiracy charges can be diverse. However, it’s important to note that the action or planned action doesn’t need to be a crime and neither does it need to take place for it to be an offence.

For example, buying a knife is not a crime. However, if the knife is purchased as part of a robbery plan, the people who bought the knife could be charged with conspiracy to commit robbery.

If you’ve been charged, arrested or invited into the police station for an interview, you’re probably feeling stressed and worried. You’ll have concerns about what this might mean and what the outcome might be.

Conspiracy charges are considered to be very serious when it comes to law. The penalty is harsh, and it can carry as much as life imprisonment if you are convicted. It’s vital that you secure competent and experienced legal support throughout the interview, investigation and prosecution processes to ensure that every detail and angle of defence is considered.

To help you to understand what the outcome might be as a result of being convicted of conspiracy charges, we’ve detailed the sentencing guidelines below.  Please note that a competent and experienced solicitor may be able to get any prison sentence reduced or even avoid it entirely.

Read more information about the offence of Conspiracy

Have you been charged or arrested for Conspiracy Charges?  

If you or somebody close to you has been charged or arrested in connection to conspiracy charges, you’ll no doubt be feeling stressed and concerned about what the outcome might be.

In some cases, there are accusations of someone playing a role, but in reality, they haven’t. In situations of this nature, it’s crucial that you get your name cleared and any connection to the crime removed.

What type of actions are considered conspiracy charges?

Here are some examples of crimes that are included in the overall umbrella of conspiracy charges and may have led to the situation at hand.

Conspiracy to import drugs  – for instance, planning with another to bring any class of drugs into the UK from abroad.

Conspiracy to supply drugs – for example, planning with another to supply drugs to any third party.

Conspiracy to commit theft  – an example of this might be the planning of a robbery in your local area of a commercial property or a residential property or even a vehicle.

Conspiracy to evade duty – for instance, getting together with a friend to work out how you can bring something into the country without needing to pay import duty on it.

Conspiracy to launder money – in this case, it might be discussing with a friend how to launder money that is classified as ill-gotten gains.

There are many other examples. If you would like to know more about whether a crime that you’ve been linked to is classified as a conspiracy crime, you can always make contact with us for further information.

What is the average sentence for conspiracy charges?  

Conspiracy charges cases are heard at a Crown Court. If the jury finds you guilty and you are convicted, the maximum prison time you will receive is life imprisonment.

How does a court decide on the seriousness of the conspiracy charges offence for sentencing purposes? 

The information that judges are given with regards to sentencing are only guidelines, and each case will be looked at individually. One of the factors judges consider in every case of this nature is the defendant’s level of genuine remorse.

The following factors are considered when the court decides which sentence to give. They will look at:

  • Your previous conviction
  • Your level of remorse
  • Whether you’re being affected by what happened psychologically or emotionally
  • What happened in the case and what harm was done to the victims
  • Whether the agreement to murder or harm was carried through to completion

What are some of the mitigating factors that might reduce the conspiracy charges sentence?

Certain aspects of a case are known as the mitigating aspects which can influence the sentence that a judge gives. One of the factors judges consider in every case of this nature is the defendant’s level of genuine remorse.

The following are some of the other factors considered when the court decides which sentence to give. They will look at:

  • Any previous conviction
  • Your level of remorse
  • Your level of cooperation with the investigation
  • Whether the activity you took part in was initially legitimate
  • Your reputation / good character
  • Whether you have any severe medical conditions that require long term, urgent or intensive treatment
  • Whether you have a learning disability or a mental disorder
  • Whether you are the sole or primary carer for related dependents

Is it possible to reduce a sentence for conspiracy charges with a guilty plea?

In recent years, several changes have been made to the sentencing system in the UK to save the court time and cost and to protect witnesses from the stress of needlessly going through a trial. For offenders aged 18 and over, pleading guilty early on in a case can reduce a sentence by as much as one third (maximum). The later the plea is entered, the smaller the reduction.

‘Early on’ refers to ‘the first stage of the proceedings’ and means anytime up to and including the first hearing at the Magistrates Court or Crown Court for indictable offences.

If a plea is entered 14 days after the first hearing, for example, the maximum level of reduction is just 20% or one-fifth of the sentence. For indictable offences, the limit for a guilty plea to be made is within 28 days after the prosecutor has stated compliance with section 3 of CPIA 1996 and serving disclosure; although the decision is ultimately in the hands of the Judge who has the discretion to apply whatever credit is deemed appropriate.

After these times there is a sliding scale of credit applied. This goes down to one-tenth on the first day of the trial and to zero if entered during the course of the trial. In theory, the ten per cent could be given if the plea is issued after the opening speeches on the first day, but before any witness evidence is heard.

If the accused does not want to plead guilty, then it’s essential for the solicitor to regularly inform the court throughout the trial of the reasons why the client’s plea is not guilty.

What are some of the other consequences of the conspiracy charges offence?

Ancillary Orders

A court can also make ancillary orders on a defendant if they are found guilty and convicted of conspiracy charges. These are extra elements of punishment that can be added to a sentence and include additional restrictions or requirements that can affect a dependent’s finances, your property or business or financial activity.

Ancillary orders that are typically added to the penalty for those who are found to be guilty of conspiracy to murder include:

  • Compensation for loss
  • Restraint orders
  • Reparation orders
  • Being on licence
  • Confiscation orders

As part of your investigation, you may also have your assets frozen with the possibility of having cash or other assets seized.

In addition, the court may demand payment of the following if the accused is convicted:

Payment of costs applied for by the prosecutors

Although the police meet some of the costs involved in the prosecution, the costs of investigation are typically sought from the convicted. These may include the costs of:

  • The work done in obtaining enough evidence for prosecution either at the initial stage or later at the request of Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
  • Seeking medical or expert evidence as part of the investigation, (where a witness is required to attend Court, the cost of the attendance falls on the CPS).
  • Re-interviewing witnesses
  • The entire costs of the prosecutor, including fees for the use of external Barristers used by the CPS, can be recovered from the defendant, subject to means. At the end of the case, the prosecutor under The Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 will request the Judge to order a sum to be paid for the costs incurred by the prosecutor in bringing the prosecution.

Victims surcharges

The term victims’ surcharges can be explained as paying compensation to a fund for victims and can range between £20 to £170 depending on what sentence you were given at conviction.

How sentences can be added to national information databases

There are several national databases that hold information about individuals and any allegations made about them, their criminal and court records. These include the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) which was previously known as the CRB (Criminal Record Bureau) and the Police National Computer (PNC).  Depending on what happened, whether the accused is convicted and what sentence was issued, the accused may be added to one or all these databases. Their purpose is to provide information to potential employers and to regulate the ability to take part in certain activities.

If your case progresses to court and you are convicted of conspiracy to murder, your conviction will be noted on your CRB / police record. The period of the endorsement will depend on the nature and length of your sentence.

Below are details on how long you will be listed as holding a criminal record if convicted. This is something very serious to consider when it comes to future employment. The term ‘spent’ refers to when your name can be removed from the databases.

Rehabilitation Period
(the time it takes for the sentence to become ‘spent’)
Sentence Adult (aged 18+) at time of conviction Young person (aged under 18) at time of conviction
Prison sentences of more than 4 years Sentence is never spent Sentence is never spent
Prison sentences of more than 2.5 years (30 months) but less than 4 years Sentence length 7 years Sentence length 3.5 years
Prison sentences of more than 6 months but less than 2.5 years (30 months) Sentence length +4 years Sentence length +2 years
Prison sentences of less than 6 months Sentence length + 2 years Sentence length +18 months
Conditional Discharge Length of order Length of order
Absolute Discharge None None
Conditional Caution 3 months 3 months
Simple Caution / Youth Caution None – immediately ‘spent’ None – immediately ‘spent’
Other Including Compensation Order, Supervision Order, Bind Over, Hospital Order Length of the order / once compensation is paid Length of the order / once compensation is paid

How Can Stuart Miller Solicitors Help?

Our criminal solicitors have more than 30 years’ experience dealing with complex conspiracy charges, whether it’s conspiracy to murder, soliciting to murder and manslaughter cases. We appreciate clients facing these offences need a dedicated team, and the most experienced legal minds working on their case; a team you can trust and who is dependable.  We also appreciate the effect of such proceedings on family members and loved ones and the need for them to understand legal processes and to be kept up to date on your case as it progresses.

Arrest & Interview

The first you will hear about being involved in a conspiracy charges case is when you are contacted by the police. The police are likely to either arrest you or ask you to attend a meeting at the police station to discuss your side of the story. They will also have a plan to see if they can get you to incriminate yourself through your words.

The police will then ask you several questions. They may even have some evidence to prove that you are connected to the crime in some way or form. However, you won’t necessarily be shown all the evidence initially, even if you are shown some of what they have.

The fact that you aren’t shown all the evidence by the police is one of the reasons why it’s imperative that you attend the ‘meeting’ or interview at the police station with a legal professional who can represent you. Not only will a conspiracy charges lawyer advise you of your options, but they will guide you in what to say and what not to say.

A lawyer can also ask the police to produce any further evidence they have against you. Viewing any remaining evidence will be highly beneficial as the lawyer can then understand what he needs to do to protect you and get you the best outcome in your case.

In some cases, your lawyer may even be able to get your case dismissed before it reaches the court. In other cases, it will depend upon what’s happened and your level of involvement, but a competent lawyer will be able to get you the best possible outcome. If you are found to be guilty and convicted, an improved result will be fewer years in prison.

Would you like to discuss your case before instructing us?

If you’d like to have a no-obligation chat with us before you instruct us to take your case, then call us today.

In addition to giving you a free consultation, we can also represent you at the police station if you’ve been arrested. We can look at securing your legal aid.

Please Contact Us and ask to speak to our conspiracy charges lawyers and criminal defence solicitors to arrange a meeting in person, online or by telephone. If you prefer, you can WhatsApp us from the link you will find at the bottom banner if you open this page on your mobile phone device.

Get in touch with us now for conspiracy charges legal help.


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