Can You Be Charged For A Crime You Didn’t Complete? Part 1: Inchoate Crimes
Written by Moses & Rooth on March 17, 2015
Sometimes one may decide–in a brief instance–to commit a crime. However, crimes are often not just a spur of the moment action but rather the result of some consideration, planning, and preparation. In fact, one may think of the process of committing a crime as a series of steps:
- The person must first have the idea of committing a crime. For example, the person may learn that a neighbor is out of town and have the thought of stealing some personal items left in the home.
- The person must next evaluate the idea and determine whether to proceed. For example, the person may determine to steal personal items inside the home based on a need for money.
- The person must prepare to commit the crime. This may entail making a plan or obtaining necessary instruments. For example, the person may scout out the neighbor’s home, peer through the windows to identify a large-screened T.V. to be stolen, and obtain a hammer to break window.
- After preparing for the crime, the person may begin the criminal act. For example, the person may sneak on the neighbor’s property, break a window with the hammer, and sneak in to the home.
- Finally, the person must complete the crime and achieve the criminal goal. For example, the person may complete the crime of larceny by escaping the neighbor’s house with the large-screen T.V.
It is clear that running off with the large-screen T.V. is a crime. But, what if the person merely breaks into the home but is not able to leave with the T.V.? Or what about when a person takes some action to prepare for the crime but does not follow through? At what step is the person guilty of a crime?
Florida Law Punishes People for Unfinished Crimes
Florida law may punish individuals, not only for completing a criminal act, but also for taking steps toward committing the criminal act. Such crimes are called “inchoate.” An inchoate crime is often referred to as a crime that is unfinished–a crime that has begun but has not been completed. These inchoate crimes include crimes of attempt–instances where a person has an intent to commit a crime, and takes some action in an effort to commit the crime, but fails or is prevented. Inchoate crimes also include conspiracy–instances in which two or more people agree to commit a crime.
Inchoate Crimes in Florida
Under Florida law, a person may be punished for the following inchoate crimes:
If you have been charged with a crime, it is critical to contact a skilled Florida defense lawyer. The experienced attorneys at Moses and Rooth are dedicated to representing Florida residents in all types of criminal matters, including those arising inchoate offenses. Our skilled staff can determine what defenses are available to you and how best to proceed. Contact us today to see how we can help.