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Attempted Murder: The Legal Definition and Possible Defenses

The public is often transfixed by big murder trials, but for some reason, an attempted murder charge doesn’t capture the same attention. But this is a very serious charge, and if you are arrested and convicted of attempted murder, you will spend time in jail.

But what exactly are the legal standards for attempted murder? Let’s take a look at how the law defines this felony.

What Is Attempted Murder Under the Law?

In legal terms, an attempt to commit a crime typically means that a defendant took some type of action that would result in a crime. However, that attempt failed, which means the defendant was unable to complete the crime.

A crime that is not completed is often due to the fact that the defendant changed his or her mind and didn’t go through with it, or was somehow stopped by something unforeseen such as an alarm system that stops a robber from committing a crime.

So attempted murder is the act of intending to unlawfully kill another person, but being unable to complete that murder.

The two important standards under attempted murder include:

  • The Act – A prosecutor must prove the defendant took a direct step toward that goal. That step could include buying a deadly weapon, tracking the would-be victim’s movements, breaking into a property where the would-be victim lives, or hiring someone else to commit the murder.
  • The Intent – Intent is one of the most crucial aspects of proving an attempted murder case. A prosecutor must prove that the action was not accidental, nor was it in self-defense. In other words, the defendant wanted to cause another person’s death, and planned to kill that specific person with the action he or she took.

If you’re tried for attempted murder, it is charged as a first-or-second-degree offense. First-degree attempted murder involves premeditation, and second-degree attempted murder involves an act of passion that was not premeditated.

Common Defenses For Attempted Murder Charges

Defenses for an attempted murder charge will vary based on the specific circumstances of each case, but there are some common defense strategies attorneys use, including:

  • Renunciation – This is a defense strategy in which a defense attorney argues that while the defendant took specific actions to take the life of another person, he or she changed their mind and abandoned the attempt voluntarily. This defense would not apply if the abandonment was due to the fact that the defendant found the crime too hard to complete, or abandoned the attempt in order to plot the murder of another victim.
  • Lack of Intent – If your lawyer can prove that you did not show intent to kill the other person, it could be a viable defense for an attempted murder charge. You may still be liable for other criminal charges, but you would have a solid defense against attempted murder.

The Need For An Aggressive Defense Attorney

With more than 30 years of experience defending our clients on felony charges such as attempted murder, the Elden Law Group can help fight the charges against you using all its legal resources. Please call us today at (888) 991-9353 for a consultation.

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