Sometimes a person has a change of heart. Sometimes a person never really intended on doing anything but still goes through some of the preliminary motions. And, sometimes, even without committing the actual crime, a person finds themselves under arrest. That arrest can become a conviction, even without being guilty of the crime itself. This is why and how it can happen.
Defining the Word "Inchoate"
The word "inchoate" isn't one of those words most people hear every day. It's a word that implies something not yet formed. Or, as Merriam-Webster puts it, "being only partly in existence or operation." This is an important concept to understand for people who find themselves charged with inchoate offenses or crimes.
An inchoate crime is one that occurs as a preliminary act in preparation for or before the actual intended crime. Even if you don't commit the intended crime, you can still have performed an inchoate offense. Another way to look at is to keep in mind that the act of preparing for a crime is a crime itself.
The Role of Intent
You've probably heard of (or are facing) charges that begin with the word "intent." Intention forms a large basis for inchoate offenses. However, inchoate offenses often break down into three main categories.
Criminal attempt – This is when someone tries to commit a crime and fails. In this case, an actual action took place and the intended outcome was for a crime to occur. For example, "attempted burglary" implies someone went through all the actions for the burglary:
- They stole the key to a backdoor;
- they picked up a vehicle specifically to carry off stolen goods;
- or they may even have shown up at the house.
However, for whatever reason, the burglary attempt failed. The attempt is still a crime. Even if the person that was making the attempt decided to quit without going up to the door, that person can still find themselves charged and sentenced.
Criminal conspiracy – Conspiracy means more than one person was a part of the plan. For example, three people work out a scheme to steal a car. Only one person actually commits the theft, but the other two can face conspiracy charges. The person that commits the intended crime can face charges for that, as well as the inchoate crime.
Criminal solicitation – When someone asks, demands, or encourages someone else to commit a crime, it's criminal solicitation. This can even come about if you and a friend are just having a laugh. Just suggesting a crime can become a crime.
Intentions are one thing; the crime is another. How courts handle inchoate crimes can vary, but it's important you put forth your best defense if you're accused of such crimes.
Hiring a local criminal lawyer to represent you is the safest path to go. You may not think you did anything wrong, but the law may disagree. Your criminal lawyer can help the court see things from your point of view. Visit websites like http://www.darksidelawyers.com to learn more.