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Archive for the ‘attempt to commit a crime’ tag

Attempt to Commit a Crime is a Crime

February 5th, 2015 at 7:24 pm

Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, criminal intent,The old saying goes that close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Well, close can also count in criminal law. While committing a criminal offense can land you in hot water, you may not realize that mere attempts to commit a criminal offense can also land you in jail for almost as long – an attempt to commit a crime is a crime.

What Counts as an Attempt?

In common language an “attempt” occurs whenever you try to do something. Fortunately, the legal definition of “attempt” is a little bit stricter than that. Illinois defines attempt in its statutes. According to Illinois law a person is guilty of attempting to commit an offense when he or she (1) does any act that is a “substantial step” toward the commission of the offense while (2) having the intent to commit that specific offense. Now, that does not mean that one has to sit down and think to him or herself, “I would like to go out today and commit a burglary.” The intent requirement does not mean that you have to know what the offense you intend to commit is called—it only means that you have to intend to commit it. That clears up the intent, but the question remains: what is a substantial step?

What is a “Substantial Step?”

Illinois statute does not specifically define what constitutes a substantial step. Instead, the courts have decided that what counts as a substantial step depends on the unique facts and circumstances is not enough. Mere preparation is not enough, and the act that is the alleged substantial step must not be too far removed in space or time from the conduct of the actual offense. A substantial step has been taken when the defendant is put in dangerous proximity of succeeding at committing the offense.

Attempting Can be as Almost as Bad as Actually Committing an Offense

There are special laws that apply to murder and attempted murder. Putting those aside for this discussion, the attempt laws in Illinois are quite strict when it comes to sentencing. With the exception of murder, a person convicted of attempt can be punished almost as severely as he or she would be punished if he or she were found guilty of actually committing the offense he or she attempted. The general rule (with some exceptions) is that an attempt to commit an offense is one class of offense lower than the offense itself. For example, an attempt to commit a class 1 felony would be a class 2 felony.

How is “Attempt” Explained to Jurors?

Of course, when a case goes to jury trial, we do not send the jurors in to deliberate with a copy of the Illinois statutes. Instead we give them jury instructions. These instructions break the law down in a way that jurors hopefully can understand so they can apply it to the facts of a case. The model jury instruction for attempt tells the jurors that “A person commits the offense of attempt when he, with the intent to commit the offense of (fill in the name of the offense allegedly attempted), does any act which constitutes a substantial step toward the commission of (fill in the name of the offense allegedly attempted).”

Call Christopher M. Cosley

Whether you are charged with actually committing a crime, or with just attempting to do so, you will need the assistance of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Reach out to the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley at (847)394-3200 for help with your case. We will schedule a consultation to discuss your case and discover what we can do to help.

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