Have you Been Charged with Criminal Attempt in Georgia?
Criminal attempt occurs when a defendant attempts a crime, and it fails before it is completed. Most states have a law that criminalizes an attempt. Some states require that the suspect come dangerously close to completing the crime while other states have a less strict standard. It is important to know exactly what your state says and the defenses that go along with it. Lawson and Berry and their team of Georgia Criminal Defense Attorneys have over 20 years experience and are here to help you with your case. Don't wait to contact us.
Georgia Law on Criminal Attempt
O.C.G.A. §16-4-1 states a person commits the offense of criminal attempt when, with intent to commit a specific crime, he performs any act, which constitutes a substantial step towards commission of that crime.
There are two elements to the crime of attempt:
- A specific intent or purpose to bring a criminal result
- A significant overt act in furtherance of that intent that proves that the Defendant went past the point of preparation and began preparing for the crime.
What is an Act that Constitutes a Substantial Step?
The act must be on done in furtherance of the commission of the crime. Acts that that are beyond mere preparation will still constitute an attempt. Some examples that demonstrate substantial step include:
- In the case of Evans v. State, the defendants were found guilty of criminal attempt to enter an automobile when they discussed stealing a car stereo, had the tools necessary to complete the crime, and were driving around a parking lot in search of a car. 216 Ga. App. 21, (1995).
- Breaking the window of a door and reaching inside in attempts to open the door were found to be sufficient acts to be guilty of criminal attempt to commit burglary. Hampton v. State, 145 Ga. App. 642, (1978).
- A suspect was convicted of attempting to possess marijuana when he solicited an undercover officer and asked for marijuana and attempted to pay. Even though he never took possession of marijuana, he was still convicted. Collins v. State, 297 Ga. App. 364, (2009).
- Defendant was found guilty of an attempt to manufacture methamphetamine by transporting most of the chemicals, tools, and supplies necessary to commit that crime. Davenport v. State, 308 Ga. App. 140, (2011).
- Another situation where a suspect was convicted of an attempt to manufacture methamphetamine occurred in Taylor v. State. The suspect gave a co-defendant a list of pharmacy directions so that the codefendant could avoid legal restrictions on the purchase of ingredients. In addition, the suspect owned a house where the ingredients and equipment were found. 320 Ga. App. 596, (2013).
Georgia Case Law on Attempt
A person was convicted of criminal attempt to commit burglary in Mock v. State, 306 Ga. App. 93, (2010). The victim heard a noise outside her bedroom window at 8:30 in the morning. A couple of minutes later, she heard some noises at her back door. It sounded like someone was pushing on the door and then she saw someone walking away from her house. The victim opened her door and asked the man was he was doing and said he was looking for water. He then yelled at another man and said she did not have any water, gas, or a phone. In addition, the victim noticed that they had parked their car close enough to the house that they could have stood on it and climbed through a window. The victim called the police, and they were subsequently arrested. During the trial, the defendant argued that the State failed to prove that he attempted or intended to enter the victim's residence. However, the jury found that the pushing on the door and then men all around the victim's house was sufficient evidence to find them guilty of attempted burglary.
What has to be Proven for an Criminal Attempt Conviction?
The State must prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of criminal attempt to be convicted. This involves a showing that the defendant had the specific intent to commit the crime as well as took a substantial step to committing the crime.
Penalty for Criminal Attempt in Georgia
If the attempted crime was one punishable by death or life in prison, the penalty will a prison sentence between one and thirty years.
If the attempted crime was a felony other than one punishable by death or life imprisonment, the penalty is a minimum one year in prison but no more than one-half of the maximum period of time for which he or she would have been sentenced if they had been convicted of the crime attempted. They could also be sentenced to one-half of the maximum fine if they had been found guilty of crime attempted, or both.
If the attempted crime was a misdemeanor, the penalty will be punished as a misdemeanor.
Attempt charges can carry the same stigma as if the accused committed the intended crime. This may also make it difficult for the accused to find employment.
Defenses to Criminal Attempt in Georgia
Legal Impossibility: A defendant cannot be guilty of attempting to do something that is not a crime just because they thought it was a crime. Therefore, if the defendant tried to do something that was not a crime, then his acts do not constitute a crime.
Lack of Intent: If the defendant did not have the intent to commit the crime or attempt the crime, then they cannot be guilty.
Abandoned Effort: If the defendant took reasonable steps to abandon their efforts, then the accused may use this as their defense against a conviction for attempt.
I was convicted of the crime: A defendant cannot be guilty of both murder and attempted murder. If he is found guilty of murder, then he cannot be guilty of attempted murder.
What are Not Defenses in Georgia
Factual Impossibility: If the defendant would have committed the act had the facts been as they believed them to be, then the defendant will be guilty of attempt. Even if it were factually impossible for the crime to be committed, they will still be guilty of attempt. An example is if the Defendant believed his gun was working and pointed it at John with the intent to kill him. However, the gun was actually not loaded. Even though it was impossible for the Defendant to kill John, he would still be guilty of attempted murder.
A criminal attempt conviction in Georgia can carry substantial penalties. Hire a Lawyer that cares about your future as much as you do. Contact us today for a free consultation.