Last Updated: April 17, 2023

Can I be convicted of a crime if didn’t complete it?

An “attempt” to commit a crime is the most common “inchoate” (or incomplete) crime. Solicitation and conspiracy are also considered inchoate crimes. In either attempt, solicitation, or conspiracy, criminal penalties can attach even if the underlying crime is not committed or completed. Solicitation and conspiracy differ from an attempt in…

An “attempt” to commit a crime is the most common “inchoate” (or incomplete) crime. Solicitation and conspiracy are also considered inchoate crimes.

In either attempt, solicitation, or conspiracy, criminal penalties can attach even if the underlying crime is not committed or completed. Solicitation and conspiracy differ from an attempt in that both solicitation and conspiracy can be charged based only on plans or requests to commit a crime. An attempt is different, in that it requires taking action toward the actual commission of the underlying crime.

A criminal attempt includes two key elements under Utah law. First, you must have the specific intent to commit the crime. Second, you must take a “substantial step” toward the actual commission of the crime. A step is considered to be substantial if it is strongly corroborative of the actors intent to commit the underlying crime.

Depending on the circumstances, the penalties for an inchoate crime can be almost or equally as serious as completion of the underlying crime. For example, both murder and attempted murder can be charged as first-degree felonies.

(NOTE: This is an area of developing law in Utah. As of 2022, the Utah Court of Appeals has issued an opinion that significantly expands the range of conduct that can support an attempt charge. Consultation with an experienced attorney is strongly advised.)

Originally Published: April 17, 2023

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