CONSPIRACY, crim. law, torts. An agreement between two or more persons to do an unlawful act, or an act which may become by the combination injurious to others. Formerly this offence was much more circumscribed in its meaning than it is now. Lord Coke describes it as "a consultation or agreement between two or more to appeal or indict an innocent person falsely and maliciously, whom accordingly they cause to be indicted or appealed and afterwards the party is acquitted by the verdict of twelve men."
2. The crime of conspiracy, according to its modern interpretation, may be of two kinds, Damely, conspiracies against the public, or such as endanger the public health, violate public morals, insult public justice, destroy the public peace, or affect public trade or business. See 3 Burr. 1321.
3. To remedy these evils the guilty persons may be indicted in the name of the commonwealth. Conspiracies against individuals are such as have a tendency to injure them in their persons, reputation, or property. The remedy in these cases is either by indictment or by a civil action.
4. In order to reader the offence complete, there is no occasion that any act should be done in pursuance of the unlawful agreement entered into between the parties, or that any one should have been defrauded or injured by it. The conspiracy is the gist of the crane. 2 Mass. R. 337; Id. 538 6 Mass. R. 74; 3 S. & R. 220 4 Wend. R. 259; Halst. R. 293 2 Stew. Rep. 360; 5 Harr. & John. 317 8 S. & R. 420. But see 10 Verm. 353.
5. By the laws of the United State's, St. 1825, c. 76, 23, 3 Story's L. U. S., 2006, a wilful and corrupt conspiracy to cast away, burn or otherwise destroy any ship or vessel. with intent to injure any underwriter thereon, or the goods on board thereof, or any lender of money on such vessel, on bottomry or respondentia, is, by the laws of the United States, made felony, and the offender punishable by fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars, and by imprisonment and confinement at hard labor, not exceeding ten years.
6. By the Revised Statutes of New York, vol. 2, p. 691, 692, it is enacted, that if any two or more persons shall conspire, either, 1. To commit any offence; or, 2. Falsely and maliciously to indict another for any offence; or, 3. Falsely to move or maintain any suit; or, 4. To cheat and defraud any person of any property, by any means which are in themselves criminal; or, 5. To cheat and defraud any person of any property, by means which, if executed, would amount to a cheat, or to obtaining property by false pretences; or, 6. To commit any act injurious to the public health, to public morals, or to trade and commerce, or for the perversion or obstruction of justice, or the due administration of the laws; they shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor. No other conspiracies are there punishable criminally. And no agreement, except to commit a felony upon the person of another, or to commit arson or burglary, shall be deemed a conspiracy, unless some act besides such agreement be done to effect the object thereof, by one or more of the parties to such agreement.
7. When a felony has been committed in pursuance of a conspiracy, the latter, which is only a misdemeanor, is merged in the former; but when a misdemeanor only has been committed in pursuance of such conspiracy, the two crimes being of equal degree, there can be no legal technical merger. 4 Wend. R. 265. Vide 1 Hawk. 444 to 454; 3 Chit. Cr. Law, 1138 to 1193 3 Inst. 143 Com. Dig. Justices of the Peace, B 107; Burn's Justice, Conspiracy; Williams' Justice, Conspiracy; 4 Chit. Blacks. 92; Dick. Justice Conspiracy, Bac. Ab. Actions on the Case, G 2 Russ. on Cr. 553 to 574 2 Mass. 329 Id. 536 5 Mass. 106 2 D R. 205; Whart. Dig. Conspiracy; 3 Serg. & Rawle, 220; 7 Serg. & Rawle, 469 4 Halst. R. 293; 5 Harr. & Johns. 317 4 Wend. 229; 2 Stew. R. 360;1 Saund. 230, u. 4. For the French law, see Merl. Rep. mot Conspiration Code Penal, art. 89.