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Yes, You Can Get Criminal Charges For Attempting To Commit A Crime That Never Occurred


You have probably heard news stories about police investigations that led to the arrest of one or more people who were planning to commit a major crime.  When a grand jury hears the evidence about the communications exchanged among the conspirators or sees the drugs or weapons recovered during a search, it is usually sufficient to convince them that people would have died if law enforcement had not intervened to stop the crime.  It stands to reason that planning to commit murder is not the same as murder; no human being can be sure whether someone else would have gone through with the crime or had a change of heart.  Despite this, you can face serious criminal penalties for attempting to commit a crime, helping someone else prepare for a criminal act, or offering someone money to commit a crime.  If you are being accused of any of these actions, contact a West Palm Beach inchoate crimes lawyer.

What Are Inchoate Crimes?

An inchoate offense is an effort to commit a crime (known as the target offense) that directly causes physical or financial harm to one or more victims.  In other words, the target offense might be murder, drug trafficking, or identity theft, but the inchoate offense is an action committed in an attempt to cause the target offense to occur.  You can be convicted of inchoate offenses whether or not the target offense actually took place.

The three types of inchoate offenses are attempt, conspiracy, and solicitation.  Conspiracy is when you help someone prepare for the target offense.  Solicitation is when you offer someone money to commit the target offense.  These are some situations where defendants can be convicted of inchoate offenses:

  • If you attempt to commit a burglary but run away when the house’s security alarm rings, you are guilty of attempted burglary.
  • If you take pictures of paperwork with customers’ credit cards and share them with hackers, you are guilty of conspiracy to commit credit card fraud.
  • If you offer someone money to transport illegal drugs, you are guilty of solicitation of drug trafficking.

Abandonment is a possible defense to charges of inchoate offenses.  If you use this defense, it means that you voluntarily stopped engaging in the activity that would have led to the target offense before the target offense occurred and before you got caught.  Simply being unsuccessful in your attempt to commit the crime is not a defense to an inchoate offense; you are still guilty of attempted murder if you tried to shoot the victim, but you missed.  Another possible defense to charges of inchoate offenses is that the evidence against you does not clearly indicate your guilt or that the prosecution violated your rights by obtaining the evidence.

Contact a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Attorney William Wallshein has more than 38 years of experience, including five years as a prosecutor in Palm Beach County.  Contact William Wallshein P.A. in West Palm Beach, Florida to discuss your case.



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