Attempt Crime Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Attempt Crime Deck (24):

incomplete or unsuccessful criminal conduct

inchoate offense


happens when person, with intent to commit an offense, engages in conduct that constitutes beginning of perpetration of offense, rather than mere preparation for, intended offense.



attempt merges into target offense if it is successfully completed.

Merger doctrine


Often said mental state required for attempt is intent to commit some other crime. More complete that criminal intent involves two intents.
First = actor must intentionally commit acts that constitute actus reus of attempt
Second = actor must commit actus reus of attempt with specific intent to commit target offense

Attempt Mens Rea (Common Law)


Generally, defendant not guilty of attempt unless it was her purpose (conscious object) to engage in conduct or to cause result that would constitute the substantive offense.

Attempt Mens Rea (MPC)


person guilty of attempt to cause criminal result if she believes result will occur, even if it wasn't her conscious object to cause it.

Attempt Mens Rea (MPC)


Attempt does not arise unless actor has it within her power to complete crime almost immediately. One court said, act must go so far that it would result in commission of the crime if not frustrated by extraneous circumstances.

Physical proximity (Common Law)


court considers gravity and probability of offense and nearness (in space and time) of act to crime. Oliver Wendell Holmes created. Standard not satisfied unless conduct so near to result the danger of success is very great. Vague test. More serious offense, less close actor must come to completing offense to be convicted of attempt.

Dangerous proximity (Common Law)


emphasizes whether indispensable aspect of crime remains over which actor has not yet acquired control

Indispensable element (Common Law)


focuses on how far defendant has come. Court will find attempt when, in ordinary course of events, without interruption by external forces, actor reached a point where it was unlikely he would have voluntarily desisted from his effort to commit crime

Probable desistance (Common Law)


Act does not = attempt until ceases to be equivocal. Attempt happens when defendant’s conduct, standing alone, unambiguously manifests criminal intent. (Turn off the sound.) Reduces risk of false conviction but increases risk police will be unable to act quickly to prevent offense.

Unequivocality test (Common Law)


test does not eliminate distinction between attempt and mere preparation

Substantial step test (MPC)


usually less of a hurdle for prosecution than proximity tests. Permits apprehension of dangerous people at earlier stage

Substantial step test (MPC)


how close did person come toward committing crime

Common law proximity tests


how far did person go toward committing crime

Model Penal Code substantial step test


defendant has done every act necessary to commit target offense but failed to commit crime.

Complete attempt


defendant has not committed last act necessary on his part.

Incomplete attempt


MPC Recognizes ____________ defense (CL does not) but places strict conditions
Person not guilty of attempt even if actions constitute substantial step in commission of targeted offense if (1) she abandons her effort to commit the crime or prevents it from being committed; and (2) her conduct manifests a complete and voluntary renunciation of her criminal purpose.



___________ cannot be motivated by circumstances not present at inception of defendant's course of conduct that increase probability of detection or apprehension or that make more difficult accomplishment of criminal purpose

cannot be motivated by circumstances not present at inception of defendant's course of conduct that increase probability of detection or apprehension or that make more difficult accomplishment of criminal purpose


____________ is not complete if motivated by decision to postpone criminal conduct until a more advantageous time or to transfer criminal effort to another similar objective or victim



Provide incentive to turn away
Person who voluntarily and completely abandons criminal endeavor is no longer dangerous

Rational for abandonment defense


Not a defense at common law
Occurs when defendant's desired end is an offense but defendant fails to complete offense because of factual circumstances unknown to defendant or beyond defendant’s control
Test -- If facts had been as defendant believed them to be, would his conduct have been a crime? If yes, factual impossibility, not a defense.

Factual Impossibility


Was a defense at common law
Pure legal impossibility -- applies when defendant engages in lawful conduct that defendant incorrectly believes =crime. Just as ignorance of law is no excuse, one who incorrectly thinks he is committing a crime is not guilty of attempt

Legal Impossibility


person is guilty of attempt if his conduct would constitute the crime if the attendant circumstances were as he believes them to be.
Abandons hybrid legal impossibility defense
Rationale – those acquitted because of impossibility are as dangerous as those convicted

MPC Approach to Impossibility