Lawyers Defending Attempted Felony and Misdemeanor Offenses

Even when someone does not or cannot finish committing a criminal offense, the law still aims to punish them for trying.

Attorneys Defending Felony and Misdemeanor Attempt Crimes

What happens if a person tries to commit a crime but is unsuccessful?

Some may think that no crime occurs if a person attempts to commit a crime and is unsuccessful. For example, consider a situation where an Illinois man plans a bank robbery in Michigan. He legally purchases a firearm, a facemask, and gloves in preparation for the crime. He puts the items in his car’s trunk (properly storing the gun) and drives from his home in Illinois to the bank in Michigan. He breaks no laws on the way to the bank. He parks his car, gets out, and goes to the trunk to retrieve the legal firearm, gloves, and facemask. On his way to the trunk, he trips and hits his head on the ground knocking himself out. The police respond and arrest him for attempted robbery. The man never actually robbed the bank. Is he guilty? Under Michigan and Federal law, he would be guilty of Attempted Bank Robbery if the prosecutor could prove he intended to rob the bank. An experienced criminal defense attorney will know the best strategies to defend against attempted felony and misdemeanor charges.

Every crime is made up of parts called “elements.” For a defendant to be guilty of a crime, they must be guilty of every element of the crime. For an attempted crime, the elements are:

  • (1) the intent to commit a crime and
  • (2) some act in furtherance of the crime, even though the defendant did not complete the offense.

In the bank robbery example, buying a gun, facemask, and gloves are all acts further the crime. Driving to Michigan and parking at the bank are additional acts in furtherance of the crime. In this situation, a state or federal prosecutor would likely charge the defendant with Attempted Bank Robbery. The U.S. Attorney’s Office could file charges in federal court because the person crossed the Illinois/Michigan border to commit the offense.

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How far do you need to go toward completion for there to be an attempted felony or misdemeanor charge?

The law makes prosecution simple, as all that is needed is “any act toward commission” of the offense. In the example above, “any act” could be simply putting the firearm in the trunk (if done to commit the bank robbery). The possible examples of attempted crimes are limited only by the imagination. Because the crime does not have to be completed for a criminal charge for an attempt, the prosecutor will have to rely on other evidence to prove that the defendant intended to commit a crime. Talented and experienced prosecutors know all of the tricks of the trade to get juries to convict in these cases. A defendant’s best hope of avoiding a conviction is with an expert defense attorney who will do whatever it takes to give their client the best chance of winning in court.

Penalties for Attempting to Commit a Crime

Penalties for attempted felony and misdemeanor charges depend on what crime the defendant allegedly attempted and the penalty for the completed crime. For instance:

  • For crimes punishable by life in prison or more than five (5) years, the penalty for an attempt can be as high as five (5) years.
  • For crimes punishable by less than five (5) years in prison, the penalty can be up to two (2) years in prison or one year or less in the county jail and years of probation.
  • The law states that in no case shall the punishment for an attempt exceed ½ of the severest punishment possible for the completed crime.

Defenses to Attempting to Commit a Felony or Misdemeanor

An astute and experienced criminal defense attorney knows it may be difficult for the prosecutor to prove the defendant intended to commit an attempted crime. One of the most challenging things for a prosecutor to prove is intent because a person’s thoughts are solely in that person’s mind. If there are little or no outward acts or physical evidence to show what the person was thinking, the prosecutor may not be able to prove the defendant guilty.

Suppose a would-be-armed robber is approaching a victim intending to rob him, and he is unaware a police officer is watching. The officer’s gut instinct tells him a robbery is about to occur. If the officer yells a warning or command and stops the robbery, it would be nearly impossible to prove the defendant intended to rob the target. Even if the officer conducts an investigation, stops and frisks the would-be robber, and finds a weapon on him, the most severe applicable crime is Carrying a Concealed Weapon (CCW).

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Successful and Powerful Defenses Against Attempted Crime Charges

Defense lawyers determine the defense strategy based on the circumstances of an alleged criminal act. A defense attorney’s skill and ability factor into what defenses are viable in a particular case. The best can always find some way to help. A savvy defense lawyer can sometimes get charges dismissed and thrown out of court. Sometimes, if the evidence is overwhelming and an outright dismissal is impossible. The best attorneys find a way to convince the prosecutor to reduce the charge (a plea bargain) or convince the judge to reduce the punishment.

Defenses might include any of the following:

  • An act towards the commission of a crime was not done;
  • There was no intent to commit any crime;
  • The defendant was doing something he had a right to do (such as attempting to break into a car or house he had permission to enter and use);
  • The defendant was at the location of an alleged attempted crime for a legitimate alternative reason;
  • The crime that the defendant was allegedly attempting to commit would have been impossible, and therefore it is unreasonable to claim he was attempting to commit it (for example, driving an automobile away where it was evident the vehicle had no engine, wheels, or steering wheel);
  • Abandonment and Withdrawal. It is a defense to an attempted crime if the defendant can prove that they voluntarily abandoned the crime or voluntarily withdrew from the commission of the offense before completion.

Attempt Crimes Require Specific Intent

An attempt crime is a “specific intent crime” even though the ultimate completed crime might only be considered a “general intent crime” Attempt is an intent to do a particular criminal act combined with acts that fall just short of the crime intended. A specific intent crime is a criminal act the accused undertakes with the intent to achieve a particular result. Home Invasion is a classic example of a specific intent crime. Home Invasion is entering a structure intending to commit a theft or any felony. Assault with Intent to Murder is another. For this offense, the defendant must commit an assault with the intent to end a person’s life. For an “attempt” crime, the accused must specifically intend to commit the underlying crime while taking steps towards achieving the uncompleted offense.

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Defense Attorneys Sucessfulling Protecting Clients Charged With Felony and Misdemeanor Attempt Crimes

The Defense Team at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has decades of experience defending attempted misdemeanor and felony charges throughout Michigan and federal court. We have a well-earned reputation for providing the highest-level quality of defense and zealous representation while showing compassion and personal attention to each client. When other lawyers are unable or unwilling to present a compelling defense, our attorneys will stop at nothing to protect and defend our clients.

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

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