The crime of conspiracy in Illinois is defined by 720 ILCS 5/8-2 as follows:
A person commits the offense of conspiracy in Illinois when, with intent that an offense be committed, he or she agrees with another to the commission of that offense. No person may be convicted of conspiracy to commit an offense unless an act in furtherance of that agreement is alleged and proved to have been committed by him or her or by a co-conspirator.
The sentence for conspiracy in Illinois will vary depending upon the severity of the crime that was the subject of the conspiracy. For most crimes, the conspiracy charge is 1 level less serious than the underlying crime (e.g. a conspiracy to commit a Class X felony is usually charged as a Class 1 felony). However, there are exceptions to this general rule.
Under Illinois law, many defenses are expressly excluded in conspiracy cases by 720 ILCS 5/8-2(b):
It is not a defense to conspiracy that the person or persons with whom the accused is alleged to have conspired:
(1) have not been prosecuted or convicted,
(2) have been convicted of a different offense,
(3) are not amenable to justice,
(4) have been acquitted, or
(5) lacked the capacity to commit an offense.
Conspiracy charges, however, cannot be brought in situations where two people are necessary to commit the crime, such as in cases where gambling is alleged. This rule, known as Wharton’s rule, prevents “unfair” conspiracy prosecutions when the underlying crime necessarily requires more than one person collaborate to commit the crime. However, in drug (and certain other) cases there is an exception to Wharton’s rule that allows prosecutions for conspiracy, and it is common to see conspiracy charges in drug cases.
Those facing a conspiracy charge in Illinois should recognize that the case is a serious once, and seek an attorney at once.