Attempted murder happens when a person tries to kill another individual but their efforts are incomplete or unsuccessful. Attempted murder is a serious offense that can result in a lengthy prison sentence if you are convicted. While attempted murder may seem like a straightforward charge, there are many aspects of a case that might lead to a dismissal or reduced penalty. In this blog, we explain a few defenses that can be used to fight against attempted murder charges.
Elements of Attempted Murder
In order for an attempted murder charge to stick, the following elements must be present:
- The offender took some action towards killing another individual
- The intention of the offender’s act was to kill a person
Direct Action Requirement
Any act that is directly done to carry out a person’s intent to kill is considered a direct step. Preparing to kill another person or planning to do so is not enough to satisfy the elements of attempted murder. Examples of direct action include:
- Using a weapon against another person
- Inflicting serious wounds
- Using a weapon in a way that is likely to result in death
- Hiring someone to carry out a murder
Stalking or luring someone to a location where the murder is intended to take place can also justify attempted murder charges. Buying, materials to carry out a murder and then going to the location to commit the act can also be enough to show a person’s intent to murder.
Intent to Kill
Causing serious bodily harm or disfigurement to another person is not necessarily enough to establish attempted murder. There needs to be actual evidence of the person’s intent to murder. While stabbing a person in the arm isn’t enough to show intent to murder, stabbing a person in the chest is more likely meet the requirement for intent to kill.
The specific intent to carry out a murder isn’t always necessary to secure an attempted murder charge. Sometimes an act that ends in the fatality of an unintended target can also meet the elements of attempted murder.
A person can also abandon their intent to kill prior to carrying out the act. Disposing of the murder materials or deciding not to pay someone to carry out a murder can show that a person has abandoned their intent to murder.
- First Degree Attempted Murder: Offenders usually spend at least 10 years in prison. Attempting to murder a public official can result in up to 15 years in prison. Offenders also face the possibility of a life sentence with the possibility of parole.
- Second Degree Attempted Murder: Penalties for this offense range from 5 to 15 years in prison. If a firearm was used to carry out the crime, the sentence can be harsher.