Under Illinois law you may be guilty of a crime even if you have not yet successfully completed a criminal action. Illinois has three main categories of actions that are punishable in the criminal justice system, even if a “full” crime was not committed. These categories are attempt, conspiracy, and solicitation. Sometimes these are called inchoate crimes or offenses. These are crimes that are close to occurring, but have not actually occurred yet. You can be convicted of an attempt of almost any crime.
What is the Legal Definition of Attempt?
The legal definition of an attempted crime is different than the way the word “attempt” is used in everyday language. Because attempted crimes can result in the loss of your freedom, and require a prosecutor to demonstrate your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the law outlines an attempted crime as having certain elements. The perpetrator must:
- Intend to commit a specific offense;
- Take an action; and
- The action must be a substantial step towards the commission of that offense.
Most cases hinge on whether a specific action is a “substantial step”. If the action was not a “substantial step” someone cannot be found guilty of an attempted crime.
Defenses to Attempt
You have the same defenses available to you that you would have if you were charged with the actual crime. This means you may be able to claim self-defense or defense of others in some instances.
The main defense available for attempted crimes is to attack the elements. You can argue that you did not take a substantial step, you did not take any action, or that you had no intent to commit a crime.
You cannot argue that you misunderstood the facts so that even if you had carried out your actions and plan it would have been impossible for you to succeed. An example of this would be if you thought you had poison, but you really only had water. You cannot argue that it would have been impossible to try and kill someone because you only had water. You still intended the criminal action.
Consequences for Attempted Crimes
Illinois law takes attempted crimes very seriously. In most cases, the sentence for an attempted felony will be up to the maximum prison sentence as a felony under the next lowest class. For example, if you are convicted of an attempted Class 1 felony, you can be sentenced to a maximum prison sentence associated with a Class 2 felony.
You cannot be convicted of both attempt and the actual crime itself.
Being charged, or even accused of a crime is a serious matter. Before you talk to anyone, you need to consult with a skilled and experienced Will County criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today at 815-740-4025 to schedule your free initial consultation. We are committed to providing you with the high quality legal representation you deserve no matter how dire your situation may seem.