People often confuse the offenses of conspiracy and solicitation and think they refer to the same thing. Both are considered “inchoate” crimes (crimes of planning, essentially).
There are, however, important distinctions under both federal and state law. Let’s take a brief look at both types of offenses.
What is required for a conspiracy?
To consider something a conspiracy under the law and be able to charge someone with conspiracy, law enforcement and prosecutors must show that:
- There was an agreement (which can be verbal or even implied) by at least two people to do something they knew to be illegal.
- All conspirators agreed on the intended outcome.
- There was an “overt act” by at least one person toward committing the crime.
For example, a bunch of friends could sit around and talk about robbing a store. However, unless one of them does something to make it more than talk – like buying a gun or scoping out the store to see when the first employees arrive for the day.
Note that all conspirators don’t have to take an action to be charged with conspiracy. They don’t even have to follow through on the illegal act to be charged with conspiracy.
What does solicitation involve?
Many people think of solicitation as purchasing the services of a prostitute. That is one example, and people do get charged with that. However, solicitation can involve any request, persuasion, encouragement, facilitation or threat of someone else with the intention of having them commit a crime. Someone who hires or otherwise tries to get another person to kill someone (sometimes referred to as “murder for hire”) can be charged with solicitation.
The consequences of both conspiracy and solicitation offenses vary considerably based on the gravity of the crime that was planned. Obviously, if the crime involved killing someone, the potential consequences would be more serious than if the planned crime was a robbery.