Inchoate crimes, also referred to as “incomplete” crimes, are those that involve the tendency to commit, or to indirectly participate in a crime. Historically, crimes such as conspiracy, solicitation and attempt were considered as minor offenses. Now, some inchoate offenses are considered serious crimes, and have shifted from being graded as misdemeanors and are now felony offenses. Inchoate crimes include attempt, conspiracy, and solicitation to commit a crime. One who is an accessory or an accomplice to a crime may also be charged with an inchoate crime.
To be guilty of the crime of attempt, an individual must intend to commit an unlawful act, and also take a substantial step towards the commission of that crime, but ultimately fail to achieve the intended crime. For example, John decided to kill his wife by poisoning her food. John takes the following steps toward the murder: he goes to store and purchases rat poison; he fixes food for her that evening and mixes rat poison into the dinner knowing that she will eat it and die. His wife becomes violently ill and calls a friend to take her to the hospital. She falls into a coma for a month, and barely survives. John is guilty of attempted murder because his intent was to kill his wife, even though his desired end result, her death, was not realized.
The common law definition of conspiracy is the agreement of two or more individuals to commit a criminal or unlawful act or a lawful act by unlawful means. Conspiracy is usually charged as a separate act because sometimes the criminal act itself is never fully carried out. For example, if three individuals engage in a drug selling scheme, but never actually have the opportunity to sell drugs, they three can be convicted of conspiracy. However, even when the full crime does occur, conspiracy is charged as a separate crime and is separately punished. Thus, if four individuals plan to rob a bank, and one is the person driving the getaway car, and the three others enter the bank and rob it, all four will be found guilty of conspiracy to rob a bank, because they have all planned and agreed to commit an unlawful act. They will also be charged with robbery, and possibly other crimes if deadly weapons were used. Prosecutors often use the charge of conspiracy to take advantage of special procedural and evidentiary rules to increase the chances of obtaining convictions. Conviction on conspiracy will carry its own separate sentence, thus may increase prison time.
To be guilty of the crime of solicitation an individual must request, command, encourage, or otherwise attempt to persuade another to perform a criminal act. Whether the person agrees to commit the act is irrelevant. The crime is complete once the suggestion to engage in the criminal act occurs. If the party agrees to commit the act, the two (or more) parties would most likely be charged with conspiracy. Solicitation may be the only charge that can be filed if only one person is attempting to engage in an unlawful act, and the act he is trying to commit never occurs. For example, Tommy wants to kill his rival Bruce. He seeks and finds Eddie, a person he believes to be hit man. Tommy tells Eddie he will pay $500,000 for Eddie to kill Bruce. Bruce is an undercover officer. Tommy is immediately arrested and charged and subsequently convicted of solicitation.
An accomplice is one who intentionally aids, abets, encourages or assists another to perform a crime. The assistance that one provides to a criminal could help by providing physical aid, such as buying the gun to be used in a robbery. One would also be considered an accomplice if he psychologically encourages a person to commit an unlawful act. For example, if a husband mentions he might rob the bank, and his wife encourages him and tells him it’s a great idea, and he should do it, she is guilty as an accomplice to his crime if he proceeds to rob the bank.
Inchoate crimes, once considered minor offenses, are now crimes used by prosecutors to increase chances of convictions. Attempt, solicitation, conspiracy, and accomplice charges occur in the earlier stages of a major criminal offense. These “lesser” crimes, usually attendant to other major crimes, have separate sentencing guidelines, and if convicted, the defendant may have additional prison time. If you happen to get yourself involved with some bad people and end up getting arrested, you may need immediate help. The fastest and easiest way to get out of jail is to employ a professional. If you are need of a bail bondsman, check out our office locations to find then one that is closest to you. The sooner you call, then sooner we can help.