Attempt, Conspiracy and Aiding | HENRICO BAIL BONDING
Attempt, Conspiracy and Aiding | HENRICO BAIL BONDING
Attempt, Conspiracy and Aiding
Attempt, Conspiracy and Aiding
The definitions for criminal attempt — in which the defendant ultimately fails to pull off the crime — vary from state to state. But generally, attempted offenses occur when an individual has an actual intent to commit a crime (in legal terms, specific intent), and takes direct action toward completion of the crime. Once a crime is completed, then those charges would apply and the attempt would not be charged.
Criminal Attempt and the Importance of Intent
Not all crimes can be “attempted,” legally speaking, only those with specific intent. Specific intent refers to the state of mind in which an individual plans to commit a certain crime, knowing what the outcome may be. For instance, attempted battery is not a criminal charge because the crime of battery doesn’t require a premeditated intent to cause harm. But someone who threatens bodily harm may be charged with assault.
One common example of an attempted crime would be attempted murder, where an individual must have the intent to kill another individual, then take action towards that end, but fall short of actually doing so.
Criminal Attempt in the Context of Murder
As discussed above, since attempt crimes are typically incomplete (by their own nature), establishing the intent of an individual is often the key to securing a conviction. Thus, it’s important to note that it would not be enough for an individual to intend only harm or even serious harm to a victim, for purposes of an attempted murder conviction.
In some jurisdictions, the actions or acts taken for an attempted crime must go beyond “mere preparation” for the offense. In these cases, the defendant will have had to actually taken material steps toward committing the murder, regardless of any premeditated plans. However, other jurisdictions permit a conviction based on a wider range of actions taken towards completing a crime, perhaps a detailed, written plan and possession of a would-be murder weapon procured specifically for that purpose.
When Can a Person Be Charged with Criminal Attempt for an Incomplete Crime?
You may be charged with attempt if you have “set the wheels in motion,” so to speak, somewhere along the line between deciding to commit the crime and completing it (without actually succeeding). A crime is incomplete if the defendant either:
- Abandoned the commission of the crime after taking steps to commit it (such as arranging a robbery and procuring a handgun); or
- Failed to complete the crime after taking steps to commit it (for instance, being foiled by an alarm system or security guard).
Stages of an Incomplete Crime
In order to better understand when a person may be charged with criminal attempt for a crime, it’s important to outline the stages of a crime. Generally, the stages of an incomplete crime consist of the following:
- The perpetrator considers committing a crime, weighing the pros and cons before deciding whether to do it (it’s just a thought at this point).
- Perpetrator affirmatively decides to commit the crime (again, still just a thought).
- Perpetrator prepares for the crime, perhaps bringing in accomplices or purchasing materials (guns, disguises, etc.).
- Perpetrator begins the commission of the crime (drives to the location of the crime, etc.).
- However, for one reason or another, the crime isn’t completed.
This is a very general list and will vary depending on the criminal offense.
Charged with Criminal Attempt? Talk to a Local Attorney Today
Attempt crimes, because they are incomplete, swing on some very fine distinctions. As such, there are many opportunities for a clever defense attorney to undermine the prosecution’s case. In any event, defendants have the right to defend themselves against criminal charges in court. If you’re facing charges, your best defense is to consult with a criminal defense lawyer.
What Do the Courts Consider in a Conspiracy Case?
A criminal conspiracy exists when two or more people agree to commit almost any unlawful act, then take some action toward its completion. The action taken need not itself be a crime, but it must indicate that those involved in the conspiracy knew of the plan and intended to break the law. A person may be convicted of conspiracy even if the actual crime was never committed.
For example, Jason, Alice, and Hank plan a bank robbery. They 1) visit the bank first to assess its security, and 2) pool their money and buy a gun. All three can be charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, regardless of whether the robbery itself is ever attempted or completed.
The “Agreement” Requirement
You might be wondering how exactly an agreement between two co-conspirators is formed. There’s no need for formalities. For instance, in the above example, Hank isn’t required to tell Jason and Alice in unequivocal terms, “I agree to commit a crime with you” (although that statement would surely be a prosecutor’s dream). Instead, an agreement may be implied from the circumstances, such as where Hank and his two companions hold a meeting to plan the crime.
The Element of “Intent”
As with other specific intent crimes, a person’s intention is key. But the court will also care about the mental states of the alleged partners in crime. Other individuals in the conspiracy must intend to agree, and all must intend to achieve the outcome.
Merely associating with people known to be involved in crime doesn’t make you a co-conspirator. For instance, just because your friend tells you he is going to burglarize a house doesn’t mean you are part of the conspiracy. Not unless you also agree to participate by acting as a getaway driver or helping him scope out the property ahead of time.
The “Overt Act” Requirement
In most jurisdictions, at least one co-conspirator must take some concrete step in furtherance of the plan. In the bank robbery example, this could be rental of a car to use in the crime. The requirement of an overt act prevents people from being thrown in jail for merely talking about a crime. If three drunken friends at a bar speculate about how they would rob a bank together, and none of them ever undertakes any sort of actual action, there’s no criminal conspiracy. The intent requirement likely wouldn’t be satisfied in that scenario, either.
Under the federal conspiracy statute, the offense is punishable by up to five years imprisonment, plus fines. A significantly lower penalty applies if the object of the conspiracy was merely a misdemeanor (e.g., you conspire to commit vandalism); in that case, the sentence for conspiracy can’t exceed the maximum penalty for the misdemeanor. Under state law, the punishments for conspiracy vary.
Prosecutors commonly charge conspiracy whenever two or more offenders act in tandem. A person can be convicted both of an underlying crime and of conspiracy to commit it, and receive separate punishments for each offense.
Charged With Criminal Conspiracy? You’ll Want a Good Attorney
If you’ve been charged with conspiracy or any other crime, you’ll need a strong advocate on your side. Be sure to speak with an experienced attorney who knows the ropes and how to persuasively argue your case and protect your rights. Contact a criminal defense lawyer near you today to get started.
Defenses and Legal Elements to Modern Solicitation
The character Fagin in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist took young boys under his wing and taught them to be pickpockets. He would then send the boys out into the streets of London to steal for him. Fagin didn’t need to personally steal anything, but under modern statutes, Fagin could still be charged with inducing the boys to commit theft under what is known as solicitation.
Elements of Solicitation
The crime of solicitation is requesting, encouraging or demanding someone to engage in criminal conduct, with the intent to facilitate or contribute to the commission of that crime. Commonly, solicitation often is linked to prostitution with the crime being the request of someone to engage in sex for money.
Though state laws vary, to be guilty of solicitation, one must:
- request that someone else engage in criminal conduct; and
- have the intention to engage in criminal conduct with that person.
States vary as to whether the other person must receive the request, or whether the act of making the request (along with criminal intent) is enough to constitute solicitation. Some require that the other person actually receive the request. Most crimes can be paired with solicitation, such that a ringleader for a gang of thieves can be charged with soliciting the burglary without having to have participated in the actual burglary.
Under federal law, the government must prove that the defendant intended to engage another person to commit a felony crime of violence by commanding, inducing or persuading the person to commit a federal crime. Charging someone with solicitation allows the police to arrest someone for soliciting a murder for hire or an act of terrorism without the need for the murder or terrorism being carried out.
Subsequent Crime Need Not Be Committed
It’s important to remember that the subsequent crime need not be committed. Someone can still be guilty of even if their request is not accepted, or the subsequent crime simply never happens. For example, if an undercover police officer receives a request to be a hit man for a murder, the alleged client can be convicted for soliciting even though the murder did not actually take place.
Defenses to Solicitation Charges
As in all criminal cases, a solicitation defendant can challenge that they did not commit the act, or that they did not have a criminal intent if they did commit the act. For example, someone charged with solicitation of prostitution might argue that he or she was not the person who did it, or that there was no offer or intent to compensate the other person for performing sex acts.
In some cases, a person is not liable for solicitation if they recant their intention to commit the subsequent crime, and notifies the other person that their request is off the table. Depending on what type of criminal behavior the person was soliciting, recanting might also require notifying the police in order to prevent subsequent criminal conduct from unfolding. Often, evidence in addition to any testimony from the person propositioned is required in order to convict someone of solicitation.
Punishment for Solicitation
Since one can solicit the commission of a variety of crimes, punishment for solicitation can vary widely, and vary by state as well. Solicitation charges escalate depending on the degree of felony which was allegedly solicited. For example, solicitation of murder is punished as a much higher degree of felony than solicitation of prostitution.
Facing Solicitation Charges? A Defense Attorney Can Help
As a felony, a conviction for solicitation can have huge consequences. However, there are a lot of gray areas and punishment for solicitation often comes down to the specific facts in your case. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help evaluate the evidence against you and establish the strongest defense possible.
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