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Understanding Attempt Crimes

March 29, 2019

If you intend to commit a crime and perform a direct act towards it, you may be charged with an attempted crime

Understanding Attempt Crimes

Charges involving “attempt” crimes can often be confusing. It may seem as though something that hasn’t actually happened can’t be charged, but the reality is the opposite. Depending on your intent and whether you took any steps to make a crime happen, you can be charged with an attempt to commit a crime — and receive a harsh punishment if you are convicted.

According to a skilled criminal defense lawyer San Bernardino, CA, an attempt occurs when a person:

  • intends to commit a crime; and
  • performs a direct act toward committing that crime.

Even if that same person changes his mind about committing the crime and abandons his or her plans to commit the crime, he or she can still be found guilty of attempt if the prosecutor can demonstrate (1) intent and (2) a direct act.

For example, consider a case where a man lies in wait in a dark alley, and jumps out to grab a woman who is walking by at night. He tries to rape her, but she ultimately escapes. He can be charged with attempted rape because he intended to rape her and took a direct action towards committing that crime.

Similarly, if a person intends to break into a jewelry store to steal money and jewelry and has the store plans, the tools needed to break into the store, and is wearing dark clothing, but runs away after breaking into the store because the alarm goes off, that person can be charged with attempted second degree burglary. He intended to burglarize the store (enter a residential or commercial building with the intent to commit a felony or theft once inside), and took a direct action towards doing so.

As a criminal defense lawyer San Bernardino, CA can explain, the punishment for an attempt crime is half as long as the sentence that the defendant would have received if he had been convicted of the crime itself — whether the crime is a misdemeanor or a felony. If the charge carries a sentence of life in prison or the death penalty, the punishment will be between five and nine years in prison. For attempted murder that is willful, deliberate and premeditated, the potential sentence is life in prison without the possibility of parole.

In the burglary example above, second degree burglary could be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. As a misdemeanor, it is punishable by up to 1 year in county jail. As a felony, it is punishable by between 16 months and three years in county jail. Depending on how the attempted second degree burglary was charged, the man could be facing anywhere from under 6 months to 18 months in county jail.

If you have been charged with a crime, you will need a seasoned criminal defense lawyer San Bernardino, CA to represent you. The Chambers Law Firm aggressively advocates for its clients throughout the criminal justice process. Contact our firm today at 855-397-0210 or dchambers@clfca.com to schedule a free initial consultation.

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