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A conspirator is defined as a person who is part of a conspiracy, which is an agreement between two or more people to commit an illegal act. A conspirator may be charged with “conspiracy,” which is its own independent crime. Further, a conspirator may be held liable, or legally responsible, for the crimes committed by their co-conspirators, even if they did not personally commit the crimes.  A conspirator can be charged with both conspiracy to commit a particular crime and also with the crime itself in cases where the crime was completed. A person must have agreed to participate in the criminal undertaking in order to be charged as a conspirator, but the agreement need not be formal or even in writing.  In other words, a person who is unaware of their own participation in a crime cannot be convicted as a conspirator. For example, a person would not be considered a conspirator if they drove a friend to the bank because an individual told them they needed to make an ATM withdrawal, but instead robbed the bank at gunpoint.

See e.g., People v. Canales 32 Misc. 3d 583 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2011).

Related terms: Pinkerton liability; vicarious liability

[Last updated in July of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team