Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The crime of attempt occurs when a person does an act amounting to more than mere preparation for a criminal offense, with specific intent to commit a crime, if that act tends but fails to effect the commission of the offense intended. For example, if "A" intends to murder "B" with a gun, but the shot accidentally misses, then "A" is guilty of attempted murder. However, if "A" intends to frighten "B", and that same shot intentionally misses, "A" may be guilty of assault (among other things), but not attempted murder, unless "A" intended that such fright would kill "B". The punishment for an attempt is often tied to that of the intended offense (e.g., half the fine, or half the prison time).
One interesting example is the attempted possession of contraband (such as illegal drugs or guns), where an undercover police officer sells faked contraband to the criminal. Because there was no actual contraband, there was no criminal possession, but only the attempt to possess, and perhaps a conspiracy to possess. Some view this as a slightly safer way to catch such criminals, rather than risk the actual contraband slipping into the wrong hands.
Not only an attempt, but sometimes even mere intention to commit a crime is a crime by itself, see grooming a child.
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