Jack and the Attempted Murder Charge
CJ230: Criminal Law for Criminal Justice
This essay will look at the case of Jack, who was charged with the attempted murder on Bert, and the subsequent dismissal of the charge. The difference between an incomplete and a complete attempt will be discussed along with the impossibility defense. The length that a defense attorney should morally and ethically go to in order to provide an adequate defense for their client will also be looked at. Jack and the Attempted Murder Charge
While Bert and Pratt are sitting in a car, Jack comes along with a gun in his hand and tries to shoot Bert. He misfires and accidentally shoots Pratt, killing him. When Jack tries to shoot Bert again, his gun malfunctions and he flees the scene. Although Jack was charged with the attempted murder of Bert, his attorney fought the charges and the court dismissed the charge of attempted murder. In order to understand the court’s ruling, one must have knowledge of the elements that comprise an attempt of a criminal act, the difference between a complete and an incomplete attempt, and the impossibility defense. Elements of a Criminal Act
There are three major elements that are required to be present in order for an attempt of a criminal act to take place. The first is the actual intent to commit the crime itself. The second element states that there must be an act or acts that take place towards committing the crime. Lastly, the attempt at the crime must have failed (Lippman, 2012, p.178). Along with the three elements, both mens rea and actus reus must be present. There are two determining factors when deciding if mens rea is present: the intent to commit the crime and intentionally performing acts that come close to completing the crime (Lippman, 2012, p.178). In addition there are three tests to determine if there is actus reus present. The first test is the physical proximity test. This test asks how close to completion was the crime itself. The focus of this test is how many steps are left before the completion of the crime. The second test is the res ipsa loquitur, or the unequivocal test. This test asks if the common person could reasonably conclude that the defendant attempted to commit a crime. The final test is the Model Penal Code or strongly corroborates test. This test asks whether the defendant had not only sufficient intent to commit the crime, but also took substantial steps in committing the crime (Teller Books, 2010, p.38-41). Complete or Incomplete?
There are two types of criminal attempts: complete and incomplete. A complete, or imperfect attempt takes place when an individual does everything in his power to perform a crime, but fails. This scenario, which is an example of a complete attempt, Jack had fires the gun, shoots and kills Pratt, shoots again at Bert, and the gun malfunctioned. An incomplete attempt occurs when an individual decides to abandon his plan or if there are some outside forces that prevent him from completing his plan. An example of this would be if someone heard the first gunshot, called the police, and they arrived before Jack could fire again (Lippman, 2012, p. 176). Impossibility. There are three types of impossibility that may occur. The first is legal impossibility, which takes place when an individual believes that he or she is committing a crime when in reality no crime has been committed. An example of this can be seen in People v. Jaffe, where Jaffe purchased fabric which he believed to be stolen. The fabric was not stolen, therefore no crime had been committed. Factual impossibility is present when an individual attempts to commit a crime, but due to extraneous factors, such as a gun malfunctioning, is unable to complete the crime. The third type of impossibility is inherent. This is an extremely rare form of impossibility where there is no possible way that the defendant...
References: Lippman, M. (2012 p. 176-178). Contemporary Criminal Law: Concepts, Cases, and Controversies [VitalSouce bookshelf version]. Retrieved from http://online.vitalsource.com/books/9781452277660/8/17
Teller Books. (2010, p. 38-41). Inchoate Crimes. In Criminal Law: Outlines and Case Summaries (2010 ed.). Teller Books.
Yaffe, G. (2014). Criminal Attempts. Yale Law Journal, 124(1), 92-156.
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