Last week, nine individuals—allegedly members of the South Side street gang known as “Hobos”—were arrested on federal racketeering conspiracy charges as part of an effort by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to buckle down on gang activity in Chicago. According to prosecutors, the Hobos have used violence to protect their drug business.
In the recent arrests, there were four gang members accused of shooting to death five individuals between 2005 and 2009. These individuals face the possibility of mandatory life sentence and possibly the death penalty. The other defendants in the case face a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Arraignments have yet to be held on the charges, so it isn’t clear yet how the defendants plan to proceed with their cases. In gang-related criminal cases, conspiracy is not an uncommon charge. Conspiracy is a fairly broad crime, and encompasses many types of conduct. At the heart of the charge is the allegation that the defendant agreed with one or more other people to commit a specific crime, and that at least one of the parties to the agreement took overt action to further the conspiracy.
In order to prove conspiracy, prosecutors only need to show that the defendant was working with anther individual to carry out a crime. This can be a challenging charge to defend against, but there are certain strategies that defense attorneys utilize to call the charge into question.
It is important for anybody accused of conspiracy to work closely with an experienced attorney to build a strong case. Doing so is the best way to achieve the best outcome.
Source: Reuters, “Nine Chicago gang members face murder, drug charges,” Nick Carey, September 26, 2013.