Attempted murder is the unsuccessful and unfinished effort to kill someone, which is treated as a serious criminal offence in most countries, including the USA. In fact, most of these cases result in a substantial amount of jail time for the guilty perpetrator thanks to stringent laws in the criminal justice system.
What Constitutes Attempted Murder?
Attempted murder requires a direct action of the perpetrator apart from the intent to kill. It constitutes three elements:
- Pre-meditated intention and taking actionable steps to kill another person.
- Paying someone else to kill a person on your behalf.
- Substantial evidence that steps were undertaken to kill someone.
The following situations are also considered:
- Luring someone to a location or stalking him or her where murder is the ultimate goal.
- Buying materials necessary for committing murder like explosive devices and guns.
- Unlawfully sneaking into homes where victims are present
- Paying or soliciting people to commit murders on your behalf.
Simply preparing to kill is not enough to fulfill the elements involved in classifying the case as attempted murder.
The direct act may constitute a person using a gun or knife to inflict serious harm on the other person, which can result in grave injuries or even death. For instance, in early January 2016, a suspected gunman, Edward Archer, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State Group and fired 11 shots at a police officer, Jesse Hartnett, in Philadelphia,
causing him serious injuries. The suspect has been charged with attempted murder in Philadelphia, along with several other charges.
Penalties That You’ll Face
Most U.S. jurisdictions have different degrees of charges for attempted murder.
- First-Degree: An attempted murder in the first degree means that the suspect willfully committed or pre-meditated the attempt to kill. A person found guilty of attempted murder in the first degree is likely to face greater penalties — often meaning life imprisonment without the chance of parole.
- Second-Degree: An attempted murder in the second degree means that the suspect may not have deliberately planned to kill. A person guilty of attempted murder in the second degree will typically spend between 5 to 15 years in prison. This will depend on the seriousness of the injury inflicted on the victim.
The Criminal Attempts Act of 1981 states that attempted murder is a felonious offense with a maximum life imprisonment penalty. Life imprisonment for attempted murder is more common than you think like the San Antonio case of Robert Rendon or the Littleton case of Tyrus Vanmatre.
Prior criminal records will also play a role in establishing the length of the sentence, so people with police records may face tougher prison sentences than people with no criminal history.
Probable Defense For Attempted Murder
While most of the elements of attempted murder are straightforward, some mitigation issues can lead to a lesser penalty. The charge can be invalidated by negating crucial elements required to prove the case of attempted murder. For instance:
- No Intent To Kill: If the defendant had no intent to kill, the attempted murder charge can be disproven.
- Didn’t Take Steps To Accomplish Murder: If the prosecutor fails to prove that the suspected attempted to and failed at the murder, the attempted murder charge will be disproven.
- Intoxication: If the suspect was intoxicated and never had the specific intent to kill before killing, an attempted murder charge can be disproven.
A suspect cannot inadvertently commit attempted murder. In fact, to be convicted of this crime, a prosecutor must prove that the suspect intended to commit the murderous crime. The prosecutor must also show that the accused intended to kill the specific victim.