Provisions against Conspiracies to Deprive Citizens of Rights (18 U.S.C. § 241)


No persons shall have the right to deprive or even conspire to deprive another person of his/her rights.  18 U.S.C. § 241 prohibits all kinds of interferences with the rights of an individual that has been secured by the individual through the United States Constitution or through any other laws of the United States.

By virtue of 18 U.S.C. § 241, it is a federal crime for two or more persons to conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any state, territory, commonwealth, possession, or district in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him/her by the Constitution or laws of the United States.

18 U.S.C. § 241 also provides that it is a crime for two or more persons to go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his/her free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege.

Persons who commit an offenses under 18 U.S.C. § 241 are subjected to fine or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both.  However, if the act results in death, kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, then the offenders are subjected to fine or imprisonment for any term of years or for life, or both, or may also be sentenced to death.  Section 241 applies to instances of conspiracy on the part of both private individuals as well as public officials.  It has to be noted that conspiracy of two or more persons to deprive alone is sufficient to invite punishment.  There is no requirement that an actual deprivation should have taken place.

The federal rights which 18 U.S.C. § 241 aims to protect are the following:

  1. the right of an arrested person to a trial to resolve the question of his/her guilt;
  2. the right of a person charged with a crime to a trial to resolve the question of his/her guilt;
  3. the right to testify at a trial;
  4. the right to be free from unlawful violence committed under color of state law;
  5. the right to travel freely within any of the states of the United States;
  6. the right to be provided service in a restaurant or other places of public accommodation without considering the person’s race;
  7. the right to worship as a person pleases;
  8. the right to vote; and
  9. the right to inform federal officials when there has been a violation of federal law.