Charged With Attempt In California?

[playht_listen_button]If you attempt to commit a crime but do not complete it, you may have committed the crime of attempt, which is its own charge. In other words, you can still be held accountable for your actions even if you did not complete the crime. All states punish attempted crimes, and California is no different. If you have been charged with an attempt, you need highly skilled defense attorneys working for you to protect your rights and freedoms.


For most crimes in the California Penal Code, a person can be charged with attempt. This includes the following:

  • Murder
  • Arson
  • Robbery
  • Kidnapping
  • Burglary
  • Rape
  • Theft

The crime of attempt has two elements:

  1. Specific intent to commit the crime

You must have intended to commit a crime. After all, you cannot attempt to do something that you had no intent of doing. For example, suppose a woman found a dog at the park and picked him up, thinking he was a stray. She is then stopped by police and learns that the dog had an owner. She cannot be guilty of theft of the dog because she did not intend to steal the dog.

  1. A direct, but ineffectual act done toward the commission of the crime.

A direct step is not just planning to commit a crime or obtaining something to commit the crime. Rather, it “indicates a definite and unambiguous intent to commit” the offense. While the exact threshold can vary, you must have taken a substantial step toward actually committing the crime.


California Penal Code 664 sets out the penalty guidelines for the attempt of a crime if no other portion of the Penal Code addresses it.

  • If the crime attempted is punishable by imprisonment in state prison or county jail, the penalty is imprisonment in state prison or county jail for one half of the term mandated by law if the crime had been completed.
  • If the offense attempted is punishable by a fine, then the penalty is a fine of up to one half of the fine imposed for the completed offense.
  • If the crime attempted is premeditated murder, the penalty is life imprisonment in state prison with the possibility of parole.
  • If the crime attempted is any other crime where the maximum sentence is life imprisonment or death, the penalty for attempt is imprisonment for 5, 7, or 9 years.

For example, suppose someone is charged with attempted robbery. If they had completed the robbery, they would have been imprisoned for ten years. Because it is attempted robbery, they can still be imprisoned for five years. Moreover, having a conviction of attempt – no matter what the crime is – can be debilitating to finding work or getting a loan in the future. So if you have been charged with attempt of a crime, hiring an experienced defense attorney will be critical to minimize the impact on your life.


Here are some defenses that may apply to your case:

  • Abandonment: If you voluntarily, without any duress or outside stimulus, abandoned the plan to commit the crime before taking that “direct step,” you are not guilty of attempt. However, if you abandoned the crime after taking the direct step, or if you stopped because you were interrupted, that is not enough to be a valid defense.
  • No direct act: If you can show that you did not perform any direct act in furtherance of the crime, then one of the required elements of attempt has not been proven, so you could not be found guilty.

California Criminal Defense Attorneys

My Rights Law defends people in California who are charged with the attempt to commit murder, arson, robbery kidnapping, burglary, rape, theft and other crimes. Our inchoate crimes attorneys can give you the comfort of knowing that a trained legal professional is fighting on your behalf to get you the best possible result in light of your circumstances. The skilled criminal defense lawyers at My Rights Law are able to go to work for you today. So, if you are charged with attempting to commit a crime, get in touch with us by calling (888) 702-8882 or by contacting us online without delay.

Other inchoate crimes we defend include: Charged As An Accessory After The Fact, Aiding And Abetting