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Criminal Conspiracy & Organized Crime

What Constitutes A Criminal Conspiracy?

A criminal conspiracy is formed when there is an agreement between two or more parties to commit an offence that falls in the Criminal Code. The key aspect of this charge is the agreement element. It must also consist of aplan between the parties for mutual benefit.

The agreement can be verbal or written and even unspoken. Often, these agreements can be difficult to prove. 

Intent

In addition to an agreement, the Crown must also prove that the parties involved had knowledge and intended to enter the agreement. Being involved in the execution of the crime is not necessary to be charged with criminal conspiracy.

Further, it is not required that a criminal conspiracy is carried out. You can still be charged even if the crime is never executed. However, you must have done something in the conspiracy beyond mere preparation and discussion, and actually taken some action to advance the conspiracy. 

However, mere knowledge of or passive acquiescence is not sufficient to prove membership in the conspiracy.

Defence for Criminal Conspiracy

Rishma Gupta has years of experience defending those charged with criminal conspiracy. We will review every aspect of the charge. It is the Crown’s burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant meets every required aspect of a criminal conspiracy charge including knowledge and intent for conviction.

It is also important to understand that the evidence may not be strong enough to charge you even if other involved parties have or will be charged with criminal conspiracy.

Wiretap evidence may be inadmissible

Wiretap evidence is commonly used in criminal conspiracy cases. Because of the onerous requirements that must be met to obtain a wiretap, challenging the validity of the wiretap order and arguing that subsequent evidence is inadmissible can be a successful defence tactic.

In 2013, Supreme Court tightened rules on criminal conspiracy charges stating “Agreement is a central element to the offence of conspiracy. Conversely, an act done in furtherance of the unlawful object is not an element of the offence of conspiracy. Although such acts can serve as circumstantial evidence to support the existence of a conspiracy, they are not themselves a component of the [guilty act] of conspiracy”.

What is a Criminal Organisation?

A criminal organisation is a group of three or more persons in or outside Canada with the express purpose of committing serious offences that result in receiving material benefits. 

A group of people that randomly form for the immediate commission of a single offence does not constitute a criminal organization.. It is only when three or more people come together to plan and commit criminal offences for their benefit that they will be considered a criminal organization. Examples include identity theft, fraud, human trafficking, sex crimes, and selling illegal narcotics.

There are three specific offences under the Criminal Code that regulate criminal organizations:

  1. Participation in the activities of a criminal organization. This offence is punishable by a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years.
  2. Commission of an offence for a criminal organization. This offence is punishable by a term of imprisonment not exceeding 14 years. It usually applies to those who commit various criminal offences such as drug importation or exportation, extortion, arson, kidnapping, violence, gaming, and money-laundering. 
  3. Instructing the commission of an offence for a criminal organization. This is the most serious of the three offences and is punishable by imprisonment for life.

Even if someone is not acting on orders from the organization, but their criminal activities indirectly benefit the organization’s interests, they can be considered as part of a criminal organization.

The most common offences committed by organized crime groups in Canada involve the sale, production and trafficking of drugs. The potential or probable sentence depends on the type of controlled substance, the quantity, and whether the Crown prosecution proceeds by way of summary conviction or indictment.

An experienced criminal defence lawyer will thoroughly investigate your case, examine every detail, assert any possible defences, represent you at trial or negotiate a plea bargain – if appropriate – and guide you through the criminal court process.

Criminal conspiracy and organized crime offences are complex areas of the law. Rishma Gupta practices exclusively in the area of criminal defence law and can help you create the best strategy for your defence. Contact Rishma today at 416-844-8467 or rish@guptacriminaltriallawyers.com.