If You Fail At Committing A Crime, Can You Still Face Charges?

If someone attempts a crime and fails, they can still face charges. It can happen even if that attempt only included actions that never came anywhere close to fulfilling the crime. This can all fall under the umbrella of "criminal attempt."

What Is Criminal Attempt?

Just as the name implies, criminal attempt is the attempt at a crime that fails. How much of an attempt someone makes can factor into the criminal case. However, it's always a crime. Many people don't understand that the attempt is a crime itself.

As an example, if someone attempted to rob another person, but failed to do so, it's criminal attempt. To look at it more closely, each element of that attempted robbery is a crime.

  • Planning the robbery
  • Taking steps to commit the robbery (purchasing mask, gloves, etc.)
  • Arriving at the location where the robbery will take place
  • Waiting on the victim

If someone was to stop at the planning stage and went no further, they have still committed attempted robbery. Often, intent itself isn't enough. You must commit an action that points to the fact you intended to commit the crime.

Between Intent and Attempt

In this case, planning the robbery is only intent, but if you write that plan down, or tell someone else, then there's the possibility of an attempt charge. Also, if you purchase items for a crime, but that's it, then it's still only intent and not attempt. The line can blur between intent and attempt, and many times, it can come down to the specifics involved.

Can You Defend Against Criminal Attempt?

There are a couple of defenses for criminal attempt.

No overt act committed – This defense says that despite the evidence of intent, the defendant never did anything close to committing the actual crime.

Refutation of evidence – This defense attempts to refute any evidence that says the defendant was going to commit a criminal act.

In both these cases, it's all about denying that a criminal act was about to occur. Even when all evidence points to the contrary, it's possible to show and prove the defendant never intended to go through with the crime. Otherwise, these defenses will show the evidence gathered is all circumstantial.

How it all plays out can depend greatly on your jurisdiction and how similar cases were tried in the past. This makes it imperative that you seek the services of a local criminal defense attorney that knows how the law works in your particular area.

Criminal attempt can still represent a serious offense that can mar your record and your life. You have to treat such charges with the gravity they deserve.