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In order to secure a conviction for an attempted crime the accused must be proved to have done an act which is "more than merely preparatory" to the intended offence. How satisfactory has this definition proved to be?

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Introduction

A2 LAW - INCHOATE OFFENCES In order to secure a conviction for an attempted crime the accused must be proved to have done an act which is "more than merely preparatory" to the intended offence. How satisfactory has this definition proved to be? Inchoate offences are incomplete offences. The parties involved may have desired that a crime should go ahead, but circumstances beyond their control prevented this. Even though the crime did not go ahead, the law still takes the view that the people involved in these activities should be punished. These offences include attempts, conspiracy and incitement. Under the 1981 Criminal Attempts Act the actus reus of attempt will exist where the party 'does an act which is more than merely preparatory to the commission of the offence". Criminal intention is said to have progressed when the person does something that is substantial and with a closer connection to the crime in question. In Gullefer (1990) the defendant (D) placed a bet on a greyhound in a race. ...read more.

Middle

In attempting to do the impossible, the D can be convicted in both the practical and theoretical sense even though there is an absence of the actus reus. In Anderton v Ryan (1985) the D had received a videocassette believing it to be stolen. She was therefore charged with attempted handling although the object was not stolen. However, a year later in R v Shivpuri (1987) D was convicted of an attempt to be knowingly dealing with and harbouring a prohibited drug. Shivpuri admitted that he thought that the substance in his possession was a drug but on investigation, it turned out to be a harmless substance. His conviction was quashed on the grounds that the complete offence was impossible. A Law Commission report, which preceded the Criminal Attempts Act, considered the desirability of striking a balance between the protection of the public from the social danger caused by the contemplation of a crime and the individual freedom to think or even fantasise. A person ought not be punished for merely contemplating the commission of the offence. ...read more.

Conclusion

fact for the jury in each case to consider, using principles of common sense and that the older common law principles would not normally need to be considered in order for a jury to come to a conclusion about this. An ordinary juror may also find it difficult to determine when an attempt is said to have occurred, without some further guidance from the trial judge. This may lead to jury nobbling. This is where the jury is forced by the trial judge, the media etc into arriving at a particular verdict. As a result of this, the conviction may be quashed. In such cases as Campbell should the police wait until the victims' lives are put at risk before intervening? It might be too late for that! There are difficulties in defining at what precise point an attempt can be said to have occurred. Unless this is more clearly dealt with, the police will find it very hard to know when to arrest someone and when to wait until they have acted beyond mere preparation. This was the problem in Campbell. Kikelomo Akinyosoye ...read more.

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