“Conspiracy” and “attempt” are often referred to as “inchoate crimes”, or incomplete crimes. While the crimes of conspiracy and attempt share similarities, they are separate crimes. The differences between the crimes are important, and can lead to varying consequences. In this blog, we provide a brief overview of the crimes of conspiracy and attempt, the difference between the two, and potential defenses.
The crimes of conspiracy and attempt are statutorily defined in Indiana. In general, the crime of conspiracy involves: (1) an agreement; (2) between two or more people; (3) to commit a felony; and (4) the performance of an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.1 Therefore, in order to be convicted of conspiracy in Indiana, the State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that an individual committed each of these elements. The penalty for a conspiracy conviction is the same as the underlying felony that the individuals agreed to commit. For example, if two people made an agreement to commit murder, those individuals could be charged with “conspiracy to commit murder” and therefore face the same penalties that they would receive for having committed murder.
Attempt, on the other hand, involves: (1) a person; (2) acting with the culpability required for commission of the crime; (3) engages in conduct that constitutes a substantial step toward commission of the crime.2 Therefore, in order to be convicted of attempt in Indiana, the State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that an individual committed each of these elements. The penalty for attempt is the penalty as the crime that was attempt. For example, if an individual tried to murder another, but the other person lived, that individual could be charged with attempted murder, which carries the same penalty as murder.
While the differences between the two crimes seems subtle, they are important. One difference is that a person cannot be charged with attempt and of the underlying crime. For example, a person cannot be charged with attempted murder and murder of the same person. Once the crime is “complete” a person can no longer be charged with attempt to commit the crime. Conspiracy, on the other hand, is a separate charge from the underlying crime. For example, a person can be charged and convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and murder. More importantly, the differences between the two crimes means that you can be charged with both attempt and conspiracy for the same underlying crime.
The above information is general in nature. It is important to know that criminal cases are usually complex matters, regularly turning on the specific facts of the case. Going through a criminal trial is scary. Moreover, individuals oftentimes feel alone or trapped when they find themselves in such situations. However, remember that you aren’t alone or trapped. You have rights and you have options. If you find yourself in trouble, skilled defense counsel is crucial to protect your rights. This blog is written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle the full spectrum of criminal cases throughout Indiana. This blog is not intended as legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.