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Can You Be Charged For A Crime You Didn’t Complete? Part 2: The Crime of Attempt

Written by Moses & Rooth on March 19, 2015

In part one of this series, we discussed inchoate crimes – crimes that have begun, but have not been completed. One only need open the newspaper or watch the crime section of a TV news report to catch a story of one of these crimes. For example, consider a case where four men allegedly enter an apartment home and shoot one of the residents. The resident is rushed to the hospital and police indicate that the resident is expected to make a full recovery.

It is clear that the men did not commit a murder, as the resident did not die. But, with what crime should they be charged? Battery? Assault? In fact, the men have been charged with the crime of attempted murder. In Florida, a criminal may be criminally liable for not only committing a crime, but rather for attempting to commit the crime.

Criminal Attempt

A criminal attempt occurs when a person performs an act that constitutes a substantial step toward the commission of a criminal offense. The person must possess the requisite intent to commit the criminal offense, and must take steps beyond mere preparation.

The crime of attempt cannot exist by itself, but only in connection with another crime – the target offense. Criminal attempt includes attempts that are complete, incomplete, or impossible to complete:

  • Complete attempts – a person takes every step needed to commit the target offense, and yet is unable to ultimately succeed.
  • Incomplete attempts – a person takes some steps toward committing the target offense, but is interrupted by an intervening force.
  • Impossible attempts – a person takes some steps toward committing the target crime before realizing that it is impossible for the crime to be accomplished.

Punishment for the Criminal Attempt in Florida

Punishment for attempting to commit a crime is generally slightly less than punishment associated with the completed crime. As expected, the potential sentence is tied to the underlying crime that was attempted. According to Florida law, anyone who attempts to commit an offense “is ranked for purpose of sentencing…one level below…the offense attempted.” This means that punishments for attempted crimes remain quite serious. If you attempt but fail to carry out a crime that would result in a felony charge, then you will likely still face a felony for the attempt.

Get Legal Help

The bottom line: attempted crime charges are quite serious and quite common. If you have been charged with a crime, it is critical to contact a skilled Orlando criminal defense lawyer. The experienced attorneys at Moses & Rooth are dedicated to representing Florida residents in all types of criminal matters, including those arising from attempted crimes. Give us a call today to see how we can help.

Posted Under: Criminal Defense, Criminal Justice

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