Attempt

What is Attempt?

Normally one would think that in order to be charged with a crime, a completed offense must occur. But that is not true. You don’t have to actually commit the crime to be found guilty of an offense. You can be charged and convicted if you tried but didn’t actually finish the job. In order for someone to be guilty of attempting to commit a crime in federal court, the Government must prove:

  • 1.
    that the crime charged in the indictment is an attempt to do a specific crime
  • 2.
    that the Defendant voluntarily and intentionally carried out some act which was a substantial step toward committing the specific crime.

Here is an example

James, a 33 year-old married father of three, was chatting in an online chatroom and met a 14 year-old girl. He started talking to her about having a sexual relationship, and made plans to meet at a local park and go to a motel room he reserved. He tried to pay for the room but his credit card was declined. He was later arrested by undercover police after trying to meet the girl in person near her middle school. When the man argued that he should not be charged or convicted of Attempted Enticement of a Minor, because he never even met the girl, the court ruled that he was guilty because he had made his intentions clear on the chat, and his actions in securing the hotel room, trying to pay for it, and then driving around looking for the girl, all establish substantial steps toward committing the offense of enticement of a minor. This is the case of United States v. Young, 613 F.3d 735, (8th Cir. 2010).

In Minnesota, the statute not only defines the crime of attempt, but also includes the following provisions that can be beneficial to a defendant:

Defense: it is a defense to a charge of attempt that the crime was not committed because the accused desisted voluntarily and in good faith and abandoned the intention to commit the crime; and

Penalty: whoever is convicted of an attempt to commit a crime may be sentenced to not more than one-half the maximum imprisonment or fine or both provided for the crime attempted.

Here is another example

When someone raises the defense of abandonment to an attempt crime, the evidence has to show that they took reasonable efforts to stop or prevent the crime. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.

An example of a case where it didn’t work is that of Mr. Gobley. He and some friends got busted trying to steal a trailer full of tools worth over $5,000. Mr. Gobley tried to say he abandoned the effort because he tried to leave the parking lot where the trailer was, but the Court said the only reason he abandoned the crime was because the cops arrived at the scene to stop him. At least when he was sentenced, he only got half the penalty for attempted theft than he would have had he succeeded in stealing the trailer and then getting caught. That is the case of State v. Gobley, a 2014 case out of Dakota County.

trailer full of tools

Catherine is an experienced criminal defense lawyer that defends against charges involving attempt of any crime. If you or a loved one have been accused of an attempted crime, she can help. Call today for a free consultation.