Attempt Crimes – California Penal Code 21(a) PC
California Penal Code 21(a) PC prohibits all attempt crimes, other than attempted murder (PC 664 and PC 187). Attempted robbery, drug distribution, burglary, battery, theft or rape, are some common examples of attempt crimes you could be charged with under PC 21(a).
An attempt to commit a crime is any act that can be classified as a “direct step” towards committing the crime. Therefore, merely preparing to commit a crime is not an attempt crime, and may be classified as conspiracy. You do not need to have actually been successful in committing the intended crime under PC 21(a). Rather, the attempt to commit the crime is considered a crime in itself.
Prosecution of PC 21(a)
In order to be convicted of an attempt crime, the prosecution must prove that you:
- Took a direct step toward committing the target crime, but were unsuccessful; AND
- You intended to commit the target crime.
Under California Penal Code 21(a) PC, a direct step is one that goes beyond mere preparation for or planning of a crime. The line between a direct step and merely preparing to commit a crime is crossed when you follow through with a plan or take action to commit said crime.
For example, if police stopped you as you were entering a liquor store because they noticed you were carrying a gun, you could be charged with carrying a concealed weapon and attempted robbery. When you entered the store carrying the weapon, you had taken a step toward the commission of the robbery. Thus, the prosecutor will likely charge you with attempted robbery.
Sentencing and Punishment for Attempt Crimes
Punishment for attempting to commit a crime under PC 21(a) will depend on sentencing guidelines for the underlying crime. Under PC 664, you generally cannot be sentenced to a prison or jail term, or receive a fine that exceeds half the incarceration term or fine amount for the underlying crime itself. For example, if the crime is punishable by a $1000 fine, then attempting that same crime cannot carry a fine of more than $500.
Possible Defenses to an Attempt Crimes Charge
There are several defenses that a skilled criminal defense attorney can argue on your
behalf. These include:
1. You did not take a direct step to commit the target crime;
2. You did not intend to commit the target crime;
3. You abandoned your plan to commit the crime;
4. Your identity was mistaken for someone else;
5. The prosecution has insufficient evidence; or
6. The arresting officer made an unlawful arrest in violation of your constitutional rights.
Abandonment of the Attempt Crime
Oftentimes a person who plans to commit a crime abandons their attempt to do so. If you were preparing to commit a crime but you abandoned your plans, you may have a valid defense. A skilled attorney may be able to defend you by showing proof that you abandoned your plan to commit the target crime. To do so, you must show that you freely and voluntarily gave up on your plan to commit the crime before you took a direct step towards committing it. It is not a defense if you abandoned your plan after that plan was set into motion.
FAQs Regarding Attempt Crimes
At Wallin & Klarich, we regularly receive questions from clients who have been charged with attempting to commit a crime under PC 21(a). Some of these questions include:
What if I pretended to help someone commit a crime, but called the police to purposely catch the criminal in the act? Can I be convicted of an attempt crime?
Possibly. You could be convicted if the prosecution can show that you had intent to commit the crime or intended to aid in the perpetrator’s attempt to commit the crime. In such a case, you could be convicted of aiding and abetting an attempt crime. However, a skilled attorney may be able to show that you only pretended to help the perpetrator or were forced to help the perpetrator due to a threat.
Can I be charged with both an attempt crime and the underlying crime?
No. You cannot be charged with the underlying crime if you were unsuccessful in your attempt to commit the crime. However, you could be charged with another crime in addition to the attempt crime. For example, if you were caught with an unlicensed gun as you were entering a bank, you could be charged with attempted bank robbery and unlawful possession of a firearm.
Can I be arrested for an attempt crime if I buy all the supplies to make marijuana concentrate but don’t actually have the marijuana?
Yes, however, a skilled attorney may be able to argue that possessing equipment to manufacture drugs is mere preparation and there was no direct step or act in furtherance of manufacturing the drug because you did not possess the active ingredients to actually make the drug.
Have More Questions about Attempt Crimes? Call the Skilled Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich
If you or a loved one has been charged with an attempt crime under California Penal Code 21(a) PC, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.
At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled attorneys have been successfully defending clients facing charges for attempting to commit a crime for over 30 years. Contact us today. We will meet with you to review the facts of your case, and plan a defense strategy that will help you get the very best outcome possible.
With offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We get through this together.