Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Idioms, Wikipedia.
Related to conspiracy: conspiracy theory


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
..... Click the link for more information.
, 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.
..... Click the link for more information.
 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.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


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]
plotted against Caesar with Cassius and Casca. [Br. Lit.: Julius Caesar]
intriguer and accomplice in plot against Caesar. [Br. Lit.: Julius Caesar]
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]
(1720–1769) brains behind widespread American Indian uprising (1762). [Am. Hist.: Jameson, 398]
plots and successfully executes overthrow of Zechariah. [O.T.: II Kings 15:10]
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]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Angelika Chec, 31, of Farndale Road, Newcastle, was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to traffic people, two counts of conspiracy to launder money and two counts of conspiracy to carry out forced/compulsory labour.
But contemporary conspiracy theories are different in two ways.
Dajon Donaldson, 20, of Coniston Crescent, Birmingham, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to supply crack cocaine and two counts of conspiracy to supply heroin.
The basic template of the conspiracy theory is that Nasa couldn't manage to safely land a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s as President John F Kennedy had promised, so it only sent astronauts into Earth orbit.
| Andrew Hayes, 48 and of Fincham Road, Dovecot, Merseyside, was found guilty of conspiracy to produce Class B (amphetamine) following trial and jailed for seven years.
William Eatch, 60, of Foxhill Road, Carlton, Nottingham pleaded guilty to conspiracy to produce Class B (amphetamine) and possession of cannabis and was jailed for five years and 11 months.
The three gang members were also jailed for conspiracy to supply cocaine, with Daniels sentenced to eight years and six months, Smith to eight years and nine months and Brettle to six years.
The suspects from Chester include Daniel Rubert, 25, of Noble Close, who has been charged with four counts of conspiracy to supply crack cocaine and four counts of conspiracy to supply heroin, as well as possession with intent to supply a class B drug (cannabis) and perverting the course of justice.
The indictment alleged that the conspiracy began "at least on or about October 1, 2005." The indictment named several co-conspirators in addition to Scott, as well as "others, known and unknown to the Grand Jury." Scott pleaded guilty to the conspiracy and was sentenced to 60 months' imprisonment.
Steven Cowell, 31, of Maes Isalaw, Bangor, was given six years and eight months, having pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
There have been so many conspiracy "theories" used to explain the "real story" behind real-world events, such as the Lincoln and Kennedy assassinations (e.g., everyone but Lee Harvey Oswald was taking shots at Kennedy in Dealey Plaza, according to the multiplicity of conspiracy theories of that event), that the very term "conspiracy theory" has come to mean--to many people--something that is believed in by either a small group or even by a large group, but is not true, and is somehow "silly."
| Christian Winter, 50, of Osborne Avenue, South Shields, was jailed for 12 years for conspiracy to supply cocaine.