conspiracy

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conspiracy,

in law, agreement of two or more persons to commit a criminal or otherwise unlawful act. At common lawcommon law,
system of law that prevails in England and in countries colonized by England. The name is derived from the medieval theory that the law administered by the king's courts represented the common custom of the realm, as opposed to the custom of local jurisdiction that
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, the crime of conspiracy was committed with the making of the agreement, but present-day statutes require an overt step by a conspirator to further the conspiracy. It is not necessary for guilt that the act be fully consummated. Many acts that would not be criminal if accomplished by an individual alone may nevertheless be the object of a conspiracy. With the rise of the labor movement in the 19th cent., British and American courts used this legal consent against unions; courts held that while an individual employee might lawfully abstain from work, the concerted stoppage of a group of employees, as in a strike, might be criminal. In 1875, Britain passed a law exempting unions from prosecution for conspiracy, and in 1932 the U.S. Congress passed a law that limited the power of federal courts to restrain union activity. Other controversial aspects of conspiracy laws include the modification of the rules of evidenceevidence,
in law, material submitted to a judge or a judicial body to resolve disputed questions of fact. The rules discussed in this article were developed in England for use in jury trials.
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 and the potential for a dragnet. A statement of a conspirator in furtherance of the conspiracy is admissible against all conspirators, even if the statement includes damaging references to another conspirator, and often even if it violates the rules against hearsay evidence. The conspiracy can be proved by circumstantial evidence. Any conspirator is guilty of any substantive crime committed by any other conspirator in furtherance of the enterprise. It is a federal crime to conspire to commit any activity prohibited by federal statute, whether or not Congress imposed criminal sanctions on the activity itself. An individual injured by a conspiracy may sue the conspirators to recover damages.

Conspiracy

See also Intrigue.
Constancy (See LOYALTY.)
Babington Plot
abortive plot to assassinate Elizabeth I; sealed Mary Stuart’s fate (1586). [Br. Hist.: NCE, 202]
Black Friday
(September 24, 1869) gold speculation led to financial panic. [Am. Hist.: Van Doren, 259]
Brutus
plotted against Caesar with Cassius and Casca. [Br. Lit.: Julius Caesar]
Cassius
intriguer and accomplice in plot against Caesar. [Br. Lit.: Julius Caesar]
Cinq-Mars
conspires against Cardinal Richelieu. [Fr. Lit.: Cinq-Mars]
Cointet brothers
use a corrupt lawyer to ruin a young printer and cheat him of his invention. [Fr. Lit.: Balzac Lost Illusions in Magill II, 595]
Doctors’ Plot
physicians falsely tried for trying to poison Stalin. [Jew. Hist.: Wigoder, 160]
Duke of Buckingham
Richard III’s “counsel’s consistory”; assisted him to throne. [Br. Lit.: Richard III]
Fawkes, Guy
(1570–1606) leader of Gunpowder Plot to blow up Houses of Parliament (1605). [Br. Hist.: EB, IV: 70, 801]
Gunpowder Plot
See Fawkes, Guy.
Joseph’s brothers
sold him into slavery out of envy and hatred. [O.T.: Genesis 37:18–28]
Pontiac
(1720–1769) brains behind widespread American Indian uprising (1762). [Am. Hist.: Jameson, 398]
Shallum
plots and successfully executes overthrow of Zechariah. [O.T.: II Kings 15:10]
Watergate
political intrigue leading to resignation of Pres. Nixon. [Am. Hist.: EB, X: 568–569]
Woman in White, The
Laura Fairlie is unjustly confined to an insane asylum in a plot to obtain her money. [Br. Lit.: Magill I, 1125]