On the whole, most criminal charges happen after a crime has been committed. You don’t get pulled over for thinking about driving under the influence. You don’t get arrested for thinking about embezzling money from your place of employment.
However, there is one way in which you could face charges without actually committing a crime. These are charges for participating in a conspiracy.
How it works
There are two key steps involved in a conspiracy. The first is that you and at least one other person agree that you’re going to work together to do something that is illegal. For instance, maybe a colleague was thinking about embezzling on your own, but they talked to you to see if you wanted to get in on the scheme.
Next, you have to take some step toward carrying out the plan that you’ve created. This step itself may not be illegal. For example, maybe your plan involves transferring money into a separate bank account. You and the other person could set that bank account up and get it ready to receive those funds.
At this point, you haven’t actually embezzled any money or stolen anything. You’ve just talked about it and created a bank account, which seems legal. But you could still face conspiracy charges, even if you never commit the crime or if the authorities find out about it before you have a chance to carry it out.
It’s important to understand that these charges can still happen and that you can’t simply claim you didn’t do anything illegal yet. You need to take the time to look into all of your defense options.