In New York, attempted murder occurs when a person comes dangerously close to accomplishing the death of another. However, attempted murder does not actually require death to result, in fact, not even injury. This is because attempted murder is what is known as an “inchoate crime” which is, essentially the criminalization of taking steps towards, or in furtherance of committing a crime. Examples of other inchoate crimes include conspiracy, solicitation, and being an accessory or accomplice, and aiding and abetting.
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Attempted Murder is a serious crime which carries a sentence of up to 25 years in prison. Contact a New York lawyer experienced in handling murder and attempted murder cases.
Attempted murder requires the same intent as murder, which, in New York, is most commonly charged as Murder in the second degree. The elements of second degree murder are 1) causing the death of another person, 2) with intent to cause death. Intent can be inferred from the defendant’s conduct or the circumstances surrounding the crime. For example: a person may reverse over their parent in their driveway, and claim it was an accident, however, upon searching their social media history the police determine that posts were made where the suspect who backed up over their parent said they wished their parent was dead, or that they hated their parent and wanted them to die. This type of evidence may support the intent element. The obvious difference between murder and attempted murder is that the victim must not actually die for a murder charge.
Attempt cannot be charged for other types of murder crimes like depraved heart murder or felony murder because neither crime is what legally known as a specific intent crime. Depraved indifference murder relies on the general intent state of recklessness and felony murder relies on the intent to commit a felony, although there is some authority that charging attempted felony murder may, under some circumstances, be possible.
It is no defense to attempted murder that a defendant had no knowledge of the actual death of their intended victim. For example, suppose a victim has a heart attack in his car while parked in the driveway before work. The defendant rigs the victim’s car with a bomb and blows it up while he is inside the car intending to kill the victim, but not knowing the victim had suffered a heart attack. Here the defendant would have exposed himself to criminal liability for attempted murder, rather than murder in the second degree because the victim had already perished from the heart attack, but the defendant intended to kill the victim while he was still alive.
Killing the intended target is also not an element of second degree murder, therefore, attempt will still lie against a defendant even if the target is missed and a third person is wounded or killed. For example, suppose victim A is in her house when two hitmen are hired to kill her. The hitmen accidentally go to victim B’s house and kill her instead. The hitmen could be charged with attempted murder of victim A and the murder of victim B.
Attempted murder and other incohate crimes are nuanced and complex. Evidence of intent is often difficult for the prosecution to prove and if there is insufficient evidence of intent, a defendant may be acquitted. To challenge evidence of intent you need the best representation. If you believe that you have been accused of attempted murder please call our Experienced New York Criminal Attorneys today to protect yourself.