Attempted Crimes

Attempted Crimes: California Penal Code section 21a

In California, if you attempt to commit a crime, but are unsuccessful, you may be charged with an attempt of that specific crime. The fact that you are unsuccessful in committing the actual crime does not mean that you will not face consequences. In fact, the consequences for a conviction of an attempted crime may be very serious and carry severe penalties, depending on the crime attempted. The experienced and skilled criminal defense lawyers at McDowell & Associates, Attorneys know how to effectively fight charges of an attempted crime. If you face charges of an attempted crime, contact McDowell & Associates, Attorneys at (213) 401-2322 right away for a free consultation with one of our attorneys and find out how we can help you to fight your attempted crime charges.

Below is information on how attempted crimes are charged and penalized in California and how the attorneys at McDowell & Associates, Attorneys can help you to fight these charges.

Attempted Crimes
An attempt to commit a crime is an act performed with the intent to commit a crime that falls short of completing the crime.
Attempted crimes are “specific intent” crimes. This means that, unlike many crimes, the prosecutor must prove that you intended to commit a specific act that, if successful, would constitute the commission of the crime attempted. This is true even if the crime attempted does not require specific intent. For instance, attempted murder requires that the defendant have the specific intent to kill, whereas the crime of murder does not require the specific intent to kill; a reckless disregard to a high risk of human life could be enough.

Elements of an Attempted Crime
In order for a prosecutor to convict a defendant of an attempted crime in California, the prosecutor must prove the defendant:
Specifically intended to commit a crime, and
The defendant committed some act in furtherance of that crime.
An “act in furtherance” of the crime must be an overt act. This means that the act must be more than something in mere preparation to commit the crime. This overt act usually requires that the defendant make a “substantial step” toward the commission of the planned crime that corroborates the defendant’s criminal purpose.
The intent and act elements to an attempted crime often work in concert. For instance, the overt act may give clear indication of the defendant’s criminal intent, and a slight act may be enough of an overt act if the defendant’s criminal intent is obvious.

Penalties for Attempted Crimes
The punishment for an attempted crime depends on what the underlying crime is. In general, however, if the underlying crime is punishable by a prison sentence, the punishment for an attempt of that crime is one half of that prison sentence. If the underlying offense is punishable by a fine, the punishment for the attempt is generally one half of the fine amount.
If the attempted crime is willful, deliberate, and premeditated murder, and the fact that the attempted murder was willful, deliberate, and premeditated is stated in the accusatory pleading and found true by the jury, the punishment is life in prison with the possibility of parole.
If the attempted crime is murder upon a peace officer or firefighter, the punishment is life in prison with the possibility of parole, regardless of whether it was willful, deliberate, and premeditated. If an attempted murder on a peace officer or firefighter is charged and proven to be willful, deliberate, and premeditated, the punishment is 15 years to life in prison.
If the attempted crime is any other one for which the maximum sentence is life in prison or death, the punishment for an attempt is a prison sentence of five, seven, or nine years.

Defenses to a Charge of Attempted Crime
There are several strong defenses to a charge of an attempted crime that the attorneys at McDowell & Associates, Attorneys are experienced and skilled in using.
Impossibility of Success
Factual Impossibility is not a defense to an attempted crime. This means that if you intend to commit a crime, but based on the actions you take it is impossible to complete the crime, you still may be found guilty of an attempt of that crime. For example, if you intend to commit a robbery, but the person you try to rob has no money, the fact that the person has no money is not a defense to attempted robbery.

However, Legal Impossibility is a defense to a charge of attempt. This means that if it is not a crime to do what you intended to do, you cannot be guilty of an attempted crime, even if you believed it was a crime.

Lack of Specific Intent
As stated above, attempts are specific intent crimes. This means that the prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant did in fact have the specific intent to commit the crime. For example, if you are locked out of your own house and you attempt to break into someone else’s house, somehow believing it to be your own house, you cannot be convicted of attempted breaking and entering because you did not have the specific intent to break into someone else’s house.
Did Not Perform an Act In Furtherance of the Attempted Crime
Again, in order to convict a defendant of an attempted crime, the prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant committed some act in furtherance of the attempted crime. Thoughts about committing a crime are not enough. A mere act in preparation to commit the crime is also not enough. The prosecutor must be able to prove that the defendant committed an overt act—completed a substantial step—toward the completion of the contemplated crime.

Contact McDowell & Associates, Attorneys

We know that it can be troublesome when you need to act quickly to access money. But often, obtaining valuable information on your case will depend on when you hire your attorney. Again, the old cliché “the sooner the better,” fits, as you don’t want to lose valuable witnesses, video, or other evidence which can be lost or destroyed quickly and easily. Call McDowell & Associates, Attorneys today to discuss the best financial arrangement possible for your particular situation at 213-401-2322.