Last month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a New York attempted murder case, requiring the court to discuss the elements of an “attempt.” The court ultimately found that the defendant’s actions did not constitute an attempt, and vacated his conviction.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was incarcerated for alleged acts of domestic violence. While in jail, the defendant approached a fellow inmate who was going to be released soon. The defendant asked the inmate to kill his wife and mother-in-law. In exchange for this, the defendant promised to give him a home.
The inmate had no intention of carrying out the defendant’s request, but played along. He told the defendant that he could do it, and gave the defendant a phone number to reach him after his release. The defendant provided detailed instructions on how he wanted the inmate to kill his wife and mother-in-law.
The defendant called the former inmate after his release, going over the plans in more detail. However, unbeknownst to the defendant, the former inmate was working with law enforcement, and allowed for the phone call to be recorded. The defendant was charged with attempted murder and convicted by a jury.
The defendant appealed, arguing that his actions never went past the planning stage, and that the evidence was insufficient to convict him of attempted murder. The intermediate appellate court agreed, reversing his conviction. The prosecution appealed to the state’s high court.
On appeal, the court agreed that the evidence was insufficient to support a conviction of attempted murder. The court explained that the law does not punish “evil thoughts” if they are not acted upon. The court then elaborated that the prosecution must prove “the defendant’s conduct must have passed the stage of mere intent or mere preparation to commit a crime,” or that the defendant’s actions came “dangerously near” the commission of a completed crime.
Here, the court held that the defendant’s actions only constituted planning, and never got “dangerously close” to the commission of a crime. The court noted that the defendant never gave his fellow inmate any money, gave him access to a murder weapon, or took any other step to show that he was serious about the crime; he only talked about the “who, what, where, when, and how” of his plans. Thus, the court held that the evidence was insufficient to convict the defendant of attempted murder.
Have You Been Arrested for a New York Crime?
If you have recently been charged with a New York attempted murder crime, or any other attempt crime, reach out to the dedicated criminal defense attorneys at Tilem & Associates. Attempt crimes can be very complex, and can often be challenging to defend against. At Tilem & Associates, we have decades of experience handling even the most complicated cases with the highest stakes. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with one of our New York criminal defense attorneys, call 877-377-8666 today. You can also reach us through our online form.