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Maryland Criminal Tax Attorney – Conspiracy Charges

A conspiracy to commit a crime is a separate offense from the criminal act that is planned and carried out. For instance, when two or more individuals conspire with one another to commit a crime such as theft or embezzlement and the crime is committed, the members of the conspiracy can be charged with both conspiracy and the underlying crime.  In essence, the conspiracy crime is the making of an agreement with someone else to engage in an unlawful activity, followed by the commission of an overt act in furtherance of the agreement.  Both federal and state statutes contain anti-conspiracy laws.  One critical feature of a conspiracy charge is that the prosecution generally does not have to prove that the conspirators succeeded in pulling off their illegal plan. 

Defrauding the IRS- Klein Conspiracies

Tax related conspiracies are ordinarily prosecuted under the general Federal conspiracy statute - 18 U.S.C. § 371.  This statute defines a conspiracy to arise when “two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy.”  The language of section 371 actually sets forth two separate offenses:

  1. Conspiring to commit a federal offense; and
  2. Conspiring to defraud the United States.

When individuals enter into an agreement to impair, defeat or obstruct the lawful operations of the IRS, the conspiracy is known as a “Klein Conspiracy.”  A Klein Conspiracy typically involves a conspiracy to defraud the IRS by impeding or thwarting the IRS’s ability to compute, assess and collect federal income taxes.  In order to prove a Klein Conspiracy the government must demonstrate that:

  1. An agreement existed between two or more persons to use deceit, fraud, trickery or other dishonest means to impede the IRS in its lawful efforts to compute, assess and collect taxes;
  2. The parties knew of the agreement and voluntarily agreed to participate in the conspiracy; and;
  3. A party to the conspiracy committed an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.

The statute of limitations for a Klein Conspiracy under 18 USC §371 is six years.  However, it is important to recognize that the statute of limitations in a conspiracy charge begins to run from the date of the conspiracy’s last overt act proved.  However, the government does not have to prove that each conspirator committed an overt act within the statute of limitations.  Rather, the government only needs to prove that at least one member of the conspiracy performed an overt act for the purpose of advancing or helping the conspiracy within the statutory time limit.

Contact an Experienced IRS Defense Attorney

If you have questions about a conspiracy charge or are being investigated for an alleged tax crime, you need to speak with an experienced criminal tax attorney immediately.  Call (240) 235-5096 or email Kevin E. Thorn, Managing Partner of Thorn Law Group to schedule a confidential consultation with a skilled criminal defense tax attorney in our Maryland satellite offices.

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