Top 1% of Defence Law Firms
Defended over 50,000 Cases
5 star google reviews
39+ years of experience
Even if you were not the one pulling the trigger, you could receive a punishment as severe as the hitman. Strange, right? Well, that is the offence of conspiracy to commit murder. If you are alleged to be part of the group of individuals who planned the death of another person, you may find yourself being prosecuted for the serious criminal offence of conspiracy to commit murder. Conspiracy law is drafted widely to enable the courts to punish organised criminals and gang members who operate together in order to take the life of others. Therefore, in some cases, even if you were not part of the murder incident itself but were involved in planning it, you could face a hefty custodial sentence. If you have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder, you may be wondering what the prosecution will need to prove in order to convict you and trying to figure out the defences that you could rely upon. This article aims to answer all your questions, and more.
Conspiracy to commit murder is an offence under Section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977, which relates to conspiracy generally and provides that the sentence for a charge of conspiracy is tied to the sentence of the relevant offence. This means that because murder is punishable by way of a life sentence, if you are convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, you could face a life sentence for that, too.
In order to be found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, the prosecution must find that you:
There are other, more complicated, parts of that law that essentially say that you cannot be convicted of conspiracy if you are not aware of key information that would make committing the offence possible at the time of concocting the conspiracy. For example, say that you were discussing the idea of murdering the President of the United States of America if he ever visits Buckingham Palace. In order for the discussion to become a conspiracy, it would need to relate to an actual plan of the President to visit Buckingham Palace on a particular date; it couldn’t just be a vague statement that ‘sort of’ sounds like a plan.
It is possible to be prosecuted for conspiracy to commit murder in a jurisdiction outside of England and Wales pursuant to Section 1A of the Criminal Law Act. This law enables the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to prosecute an offence that is planned at least in part in the UK, but would be committed elsewhere, provided that the act is also prohibited in the country where it would be committed. Murder is a criminal offence in all countries of the world. Therefore, conspiracy to commit a murder abroad could be prosecuted under this legislation.
Conspiracy to commit murder is different from attempted murder. Attempted murder relates to an unsuccessful effort to murder someone. By contrast, conspiracy to murder relates to a plan to murder someone. You can be prosecuted for making the plan, even if no murder attempt actually ever takes place.
Here are some examples of conspiracy to commit murder:
Not all agreements to commit a crime can be charged under the offence of conspiracy. Agreements cannot be a conspiracy where they are between a person and one of other person who is:
However, the person could still be charged with conspiracy if the agreement is between them, say, a spouse, and another person.
For example, a man could not be charged with conspiracy for making a plan to kill his neighbour with his wife, and eight-year-old son. That said, the same man could be charged with conspiracy if he also made the plan with his adult son. These exemptions might seem illogical. Why should a person be relieved of committing a criminal offence because their co-conspirator was a child, or their spouse? Some years ago, the Law Commission published a paper recommending that these exemptions be abolished. However, to date, they remain in law.
Defences could include:
If you have been charged with conspiracy to murder, you are probably aware that this is a very serious offence. Make sure that you have the best possible legal team on your side. At Stuart Miller Solicitors, our defence team has successfully secured the acquittal of thousands of defendants at the Crown Court. We will give you nuanced and realistic advice on your case. Contact us for a no obligation consultation today.