Like virtually everyone, you probably know that if you commit a crime, you face criminal consequences. In California and other places, incomplete crimes can also constitute criminal activity. As such, even if your crime is not ultimately successful, you may spend time behind bars.
Attempted crimes, along with solicitation and conspiracy, fall under the category of inchoate offenses. Except for attempted murder, which is typically punishable by life imprisonment, attempted crimes usually carry a sentence of half the sentence of the completed crime. Depending on the nature of the offense, the period of incarceration for an attempted crime may be quite long.
The elements of attempt
In the Golden State, attempting to commit an ultimately unsuccessful crime is a violation of law. To establish their case, prosecutors must prove the following two elements:
- You had the specific intention to commit a crime.
- You took a direct, albeit unsuccessful, step to commit the crime.
Intent generally happens when a person decides to do something that is against the law. Proving a direct step toward a crime’s commission, though, is a little more complicated. Usually, prosecutors must show that your actions went beyond the planning stage. That is, you did something substantial in furtherance of the criminal endeavor.
Defenses to an attempt charge
Because attempt charges can have life-altering consequences, defending yourself aggressively is critical. With an attempt offense, two defenses come to mind. First, if you can show that you abandoned your efforts to commit the crime, you may be able to secure an acquittal. Similarly, you may be able to prove that committing the crime was a legal impossibility. This strategy, however, may be tough to execute successfully.
Clearly, attempting to commit a serious crime may land you in legal peril. Put simply, the State of California does not take unsuccessful crimes lightly. By understanding what constitutes attempt and how to defend against it, you can likely fully assert your legal rights.