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Understanding attempted crimes

With regards to criminal law, intent is often looked at when considering whether the accused is guilty of a crime. But what if a crime was not completed? Does this mean no criminal charges can follow? With regards to attempted crimes, this likely occurs when an individual fails to complete the crime. However, in order for an attempted crime to occur, the accused must have had the intent to commit the supposed crime.

A criminal charge related to a person's attempt to commit a crime is based on a person's specific intent. This means that the accused must have the intent to commit a crime and has taken direct action toward the completion of the crime. Additionally, attempted crimes are typically incomplete. This means that the prosecution must prove that the accused had the intent to complete or commit the crime.

In order for a criminal act to be attempted, one must go beyond mere preparation to commit the offense. This means that the defendant must have actually taken material steps to commit the crime. This is the basis in some jurisdictions while others base a conviction of a wider range of actions taken toward the completion of a crime.

An attempted crime is said to have occurred when a person sets the wheel in motion to commit a crime. An attempt falls somewhere between deciding to commit a crime and completing the crime without success. An incomplete crime occurs when an individual abandons the commission of the crime after he or she has taken steps to commit it or when a person fails to complete the crime after he or she has taken steps to commit it.

When accused of attempt, it is important for defendants to understand that not all crimes can be attempted. This means they must be a specific intent crime. Additionally, there are defense options available for those accused of such crimes, which could help an accused obtain reduced or dismissed charges.

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J. Dean Keegan and Thomas D. Farnsworth, Attorneys at Law
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Cedar Rapids Criminal Law Office

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