Attempted Crimes In Nevada
We have all heard the term “Attempted Murder” on the news or on a court TV or when watching “ Law and Order” but what does that actually mean?
Well, it is not as simple as you may think.
Crimes in Nevada that are not fully carried out are considered and can be charged as attempted crimes.
An attempted crime is a not fully formed crime or an “ inchoate “ crime.
The Nevada Supreme Court has very specific terms that define an attempted crime. There are three elements that must be present to be charged with an attempted crime:
- There was intent by the defendant to commit a crime- Intent is hard to prove since there is no actual tangible evidence. Intent is usually shown via witness statements.
- The defendant takes “overt action” towards committing a crime- This means the defendant isn’t just thinking about or planning the crime, they actually take steps at committing the crime.
- The defendant fails to complete the intended crime- While taking the steps to commit the crime the defendant fails at the final criminal act
There is a whole list of reasons that crime efforts fail from poor preparation to police intervention.
For example, if Steve tries to break into the local jewelry store to steal some expensive jewelry but is found by the owner and the owner protects his store by firing a legal weapon and Steve takes off but gets caught by the police.
Steve can be charged with attempted burglary or attempted robbery.
The attempted crime laws are very similar in both the state and federal systems.
How Much Action Constitutes an Attempt
Just thinking about a crime is not a criminal offense. How many times have we said something out loud that would be considered a crime?
Wishing it, thinking it, and even planning it are not crimes.
The defendant must actually commit an overt act towards actually committing the crime.
For example: Ray is upset that Caroline got a promotion at work that he thought he was entitled to. Ray, in a fit of anger, spikes Caroline’s drink at work. Caroline smells her drink before she drinks it, she opens it up and smells sometimes it isn’t right and it smells like chemicals. Thinking Ray has poisoned her she calls the police.
Ray would be arrested and charged with attempted battery because he (1) Intended to commit the crime, and (2) went through with the motions of trying to poison Caroline by placing the poison in Caroline’s drink.
If a person buys the poison in the above example but doesn’t use it they cannot be charged with an attempt of a crime since even though they purchased the poison they never actually attempted to use it.
If a person still spikes the drink with the intent to poison but uses Gatorade instead of the poison the defendant is still guilty of attempted battery because even though they used the wrong substance the intent to commit a crime was still there and they still committed an overt act.
What the court considered an attempted crime is very subjective and depends on several factors including the state of mind of the defendant or did they have intent, what crime was the defendant trying to carry out, and how far did they get in the commission of a crime.
How Is Conspiracy to Commit a Crime Different From Attempting to Commit Crime
Attempt and conspiracy are completely different types of acts. When someone is charged with attempting a crime, they try to commit the crime, but they fail at carrying it out.
Conspiracy is defined as two or more people agreeing to plan and commit a crime whether or not they take further action to accomplish it or not.
For example: If Amy wants to kill her husband and enlists Christine’s help and they discuss how and when this will take place. On the day that’s supposed to happen Christine gets cold feet and doesn’t show up to the preplanned place.
Amy, not wanting to wait any longer, goes about the plan on her own. She tries to kill her husband but doesn’t succeed.
She is arrested and charged with attempted murder and conspiracy. Christine can be charged with conspiracy because she helped planned the attempted murder. She would not be charged with attempted murder since she did not participate in the overt act.
In most states, conspiracy charges face the same punishment as committing the act itself. Some may think that it is a lesser crime but usually not.
What Are the Defenses Against Attempted Crime Charges
There are three common defenses that are used to defend these charges:
- The defendant had no intent to commit the crime-As we have stated intent is the key to being charged with an attempted crime. So if the defendant accidentally or unconsciously commits an act and therefore is not guilty because the act was not intentional. The prosecution must be able to prove intent beyond a reasonable doubt for a person to be guilty of attempting a crime
- The defendant did not commit actions that are equal to attempting a crime- Thinking it and even some planning of a crime is NOT a crime. A defendant must take action that is directly related to the crime itself to face attempted charges. Planning a crime usually involves non-criminal activities and a good defense attorney can argue that planning actions are non-criminal offenses and therefore can’t be charged as attempted.
- The defendant didn’t try to commit the crime-For example if a person is charged with attempted arson but the defendant never tried to set anything on fire. If the D.A can’t prove the defendant tried to carry out the crime or attempt to commit the crime then they should not be charged with a crime or attempted crime.
The Most Common Attempted Crimes in Nevada
As a side note, the penalty for using a deadly weapon like a gun or attempting a crime on a person who is over the age of 60 carries an additional charge and sentence of 1-20 years additional in prison.
The additional or special charge can carry a prison sentence that may be longer than the original crime.
Some of the most common attempted crimes in Nevada are:
- Attempted Murder- The attempt to kill someone. If try and strangle someone and they survive you can be charged with attempted murder. Since murder is a felony with life in prison or even the death penalty, attempted murder is a category B felony carrying 2-20 years in prison. The attempted crime offense is one category below the actual crime since the crime actually failed.
- Attempted Rape- Attempted sexual assault is when someone tries to forcibly have sexual intercourse or a version of without consent. Even if the defendant fails to rape the victim the defendant is still charged with attempted rape. Sexual assault is a category A felony with a sentence of life in prison. So attempted rape is a category B felony with a 2-20 year prison sentence
- Attempted Robbery- trying but failing to unlawfully take property from another person or business using force , violence or threats. Attempting to rob a jewelry store at gunpoint and the owner of the jewelry store returns fire and you run away with getting any merchandise you can still be charged with attempted robbery since you used a gun to try and rob the store.
Why Call a Defense Attorney in Nevada
You may not think that attempted charges are serious but as you can see, they can involve long prison terms if convicted.
An experienced defense team can investigate the charges against you using their own team of investigators. A good defense team will give you an outline as to what to expect from your court proceeding.
An established lawyer can get your charges reduced or even dismissed under the right circumstances. Sometimes we can even arrange a plea bargain if that is the only solution. We know the judges and the District Attorneys of the Clark County court system. Call The Defenders today for a case review if you have been charged with any attempted crimes. You can also contact us here.