Can I Be Arrested for Only Attempting a Crime?

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Have you ever thought about committing a crime—but then, for whatever reason, didn’t follow through?

While you might think not following through with the thought would be the end of the story in such a case, in certain instances you might be wrong. An “incomplete” crime is one which ends when #4, below, is complete, but #s 5 and 6 are not:

  • You have an idea regarding committing a specific crime;
  • You think about your idea, and decide whether you should move forward;
  • You decide you will commit the crime;
  • You prepare for the crime;
  • You begin committing the crime, and
  • You complete the crime.

Thinking About a Crime is Not a Criminal Act

In general, having an idea about committing a crime, deciding whether you should actually commit the crime, and deciding in favor of committing that crime are not criminal acts. Obviously, actually committing the crime is a criminal act. What if, however, you were arrested for starting to commit a crime—but you stopped in the middle of the act and did not complete the crime? The non-completion of the criminal act could have been because you were stopped by a police officer before the crime was actually committed, because you were in the middle of carrying out a crime, say by shooting another person, but you missed, or because you simply changed your mind.

If you made up your mind to shoot another person, and the only reason the crime was not committed was because you are a bad shot, you are not off the hook, and could be charged with attempted murder. If a police officer stopped you before you could shoot another person, or if you simply changed your mind, then the crime is “incomplete.” Whether you can be arrested for attempting a crime is also dependent on the type of crime in question.

Did the Crime Require Specific Intent?

You can only be convicted of an attempted crime, if that particular crime required “specific intent,” which your state of mind—that is, whether you were intent on committing the crime in question, such as a murder. In order to show intent, however, you must have taken a clear, substantial step toward completion of the crime in order to be guilty of an attempted crime. Using the example above, of shooting another person, simply thinking about killing another person, then purchasing a firearm, is not considered attempted murder. Once you take that gun and aim it at the person you thought about killing, the scenario changes, and you could be charged with attempted murder.

What About the Crime of Conspiracy?

Conspiracy is an agreement, whether explicit, or only implied, among at least two people, to commit a criminal act. Unfortunately, the legal definition is very vague, leading to struggles to separate an idea to break the law from an agreement to break the law. The laws regarding conspiracy have changed over the years, and now require that a step, no matter how small, must be taken by the persons discussing breaking the law toward that goal—an overt act. One simple overt act by one member of the group is sufficient to allow prosecution of every member of the group under current conspiracy laws.

Because attempted crimes are, by their very nature, incomplete crimes, whether or not you can be charged for the attempted crime can hinge on some very fine distinctions. Because attempted crimes can be so complex, it is especially important that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as you think there could be a problem.

Contact Our Jackson Criminal Defense Lawyers

If you have been charged with a crime or an attempted crime in Jackson, Hattiesburg, Meridian, or anywhere in the State of Mississippi, the best thing you can do is to contact an experienced Mississippi criminal defense attorney who will protect your rights to a fair trial and safeguard your future.

At Coxwell & Associates, PLLC, our attorneys believe that everyone is innocent until proven guilty and we work tirelessly to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process. Contact Coxwell & Associates today at 1-601-948-1600 or 1-877-231-1600. Or click on the button below and we can call you.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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