Laws Governing Criminal Conspiracy

“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”

As quoted by Fredrick Douglas, an American social reformer and abolitionist after escaping slavery.

What is Criminal Conspiracy?

To put it simply, a conspiracy under criminal law exists when two or more individuals agree or plan to commit an unlawful act and then take necessary actions to commit that act. However, the action taken need not constitute a crime but must prove that those involved in the conspiracy were aware of the plan and had intentions to commit the crime. It is possible that an individual might be charged with conspiracy regardless of whether or not there was a crime committed.

A simple criminal conspiracy scenario can be as follows: Parties A, B, C, and D enter into an agreement to commit a robbery. A will enter into a house using the key that B has provided, while C will be outside the premise with a getaway vehicle. Once the act is completed, and the money is stolen, all the parties agree that D will keep the money until further notice.

The plan seems pretty straightforward, right? All the parties have a singular role to play in the act, and it is understood that A will commit the crime solely while the other parties are merely accessories to the crime.

However, all four parties involved may be convicted of a conspiracy regardless of whether they committed the crime or not.

There are three (3) instances where a court in any jurisdiction may find a party guilty of conspiracy:

  1. If the parties are in agreement: an agreement between the parties is the essence of the crime. Without an agreement present between the parties, there can be no conspiracy. However, there is no need for a formal verbal agreement. A does not need to tell the rest of the parties, “I agree to commit this robbery together with all of you.” An agreement between the parties can be formed by the mere act of conducting a meeting place in order to plan the crime.
  2. The intention between the party/ Mens rea: One of the main fundamental elements in criminal law is an intention or mens rea – also called a guilty mind. All the parties must possess the intention to commit a crime; however, the courts will examine the mental state of a person or whether he was forced or threatened to commit the crime. A famous English case, R v Anderson mentions that a mens rea of the crime is only established if it is shown that the accused person or persons who entered into the agreement have intended to commit the agreed crime in furtherance of the specific purpose or goal in which the parties intended to achieve. In the words of Lord Bridge in R v Anderson, “nothing more will suffice, nothing less is required.” In other words, all the parties must intend to commit the act to achieve their goal, i.e., the money that is robbed.
  3. Overt Act element is required: An ‘overt act’ element can be defined in criminal law as an action that can be viewed as innocent by itself, but if it is part of the preparation for the furtherance of a crime, then it can be proof for a party’s participation of a crime. For example, B might go to a key shop and get a copy of the key intended to rob the house, or C might go to a car rental shop to acquire a car for the getaway vehicle, or D might purchase a safe in order to keep the stolen money safe. All of these acts are considered innocent by themselves; however, it can be viewed as an act for a more elaborate scheme when combined.

Criminal Conspiracy for Aiding and Abetting under UAE Law

TheUAE Federal Law Number 3 of 1987 regarding the Penal Code has provided provisions for criminal conspiracies and co-conspirators under Chapter 3. Article 44 has laid out the definition for accomplices of a crime and mentions that a person who has committed the crime by himself or acts as a direct accomplice will be deemed as a perpetrator of the crime. There are three (3) instances where a person will be considered a perpetrator of a crime:

  1. if he commits a crime with another person,
  2. If crime consists of several acts and he, in full awareness, participates on of the required act of the crime,
  3. If he assists another person in committing the criminal act, the person is not responsible for this criminal act.

Furthermore, a person will be considered an accomplice by causation under Article 45 if:

  1. he encourages a person to commit a crime. And the crime was committed because of that encouragement;
  2. he has conspired with other parties to carry out the crime;
  3. he knowingly provided the person carrying out the act with weapons or tools used in the execution of the crime. Forty-five stipulated that an accomplice of the crime will be equally liable to the crime regardless of whether he was in direct contact with the criminal or not.

Suppose a person is found at the scene of the crime. In that case, it is pertinent to determine his intentions as Article 46 has stipulated that a person discovered at the scene of the crime that possesses the intentions to commit the crime will be considered as a direct accomplice. However, in criminal law, the intention is everything as aforementioned. If a person found lacks criminal intent, he shall not be subject to the penalty, although other accomplices will not benefit accordingly, as mentioned in Article 48. The law will impose a penalty on the accomplice to the crime, either direct or by causation, that is in line with his criminal intention and knowledge of the crime as stated in Article 52. To know more about the criminal laws and legal procedures get in touch with the criminal lawyers in UAE.