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Alternate uses: See Conspiracy (disambiguation)

Conspiracy, in common usage, is the act of working in secret to obtain some goal, usually understood with negative connotations.

As a legal term, conspiracy has historically been defined, in America, as an agreement of two or more people to commit a crime, or to accomplish a legal end through illegal actions. For example, planning to rob a bank in order to raise money for charity is still an illegal conspiracy. The conspiracy does not need to have been planned in secret in order to meet the definition of the crime.

In United States v. Shabani (1994) the US Supreme Court ruled: "...U.S. Congress intended to adopt the common law definition of conspiracy, which does not make the doing of any act other than the act of conspiring a condition of liability..." This ruling indicates that conspiracy, without any further action, can be criminal. Note that a "conspiracy", as a legal term in the US, does not always require more than one person. There are, in many nations, explicit crimes of conspiracy to commit murder et cetera.

In California, a punishable conspiracy is an agreement between at least two people to commit a crime, while in addition at least one of them does some act to commit the crime. Each person is punishable in the same manner and to the same extent as is provided for the punishment of the crime itself. [1] One example of this is The Han Twins Murder Conspiracy case, where one twin sister attempted to hire two youths to have her twin sister killed.

For instances of specific conspiracy theories, see:

See also: conspiracy theory


It is generally accepted that conspire comes from the Latin roots con, with, and spirare, to breathe—so to conspire literally means 'to breathe together'.

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Last updated: 10-12-2005 01:06:11
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