Charges for Incomplete or Inchoate Crimes in Florida
There’s a common assumption that you must actually commit a criminal offense to be charged with a crime, but this is a misconception. Under Florida’s statute on incomplete crimes, you can actually be arrested for conduct that does NOT rise to the level of criminal activity – and it may come as a surprise when you believe you didn’t violate the law. You may also be shocked to learn that, if convicted for one of these so-called inchoate offenses, you could be subject to the same penalties as if you did commit the crime directly. A judge might sentence you to jail time, fines, probation, and other punishment.
This information about incomplete crimes might sound confusing, mainly because it is. Because of the legal complexities, you should retain a skilled Florida criminal defense lawyer to assist in fighting such charges as:
Conspiracy: You could be charged with conspiracy if you enter an agreement to commit a criminal offense. As such, there are two key elements that a prosecutor must prove:
- There must be two people involved, since there cannot be an agreement without at least one more individual; and,
- It was the intent of both alleged perpetrators that the intent was to commit the offense, even if the crime was never completed by any of them.
Aiding and Abetting: Florida law uses the term “accessory” to describe a person who assists another individual in criminal activity. You could be arrested if you provide aid to the principal before the offense is committed, as well as by assisting the person after the fact with knowledge that the crime occurred. Note that the offense must be at least a Third Degree Felony for someone to be convicted of being an accessory before or after the fact.
Solicitation: Often used in connection with prostitution, solicitation involves encouraging someone to engage in criminal activity; a murder for hire is also a common scenario. The criminal act of solicitation occurs when a person commands, persuades, hires, or otherwise requests someone else to commit an offense. Therefore, you could be arrested for solicitation even if you were nowhere near the scene of the crime.
Attempt: This inchoate crime is one of the most difficult from the standpoint of both prosecutor and defense because the lines are blurry with regards to a critical question: What constitutes an “act” toward or in furtherance of the underlying offense? The answer is very fact-specific and often requires assessment of the different stages a person underwent – and whether he or she abandoned efforts at any time.
Contact a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney About Inchoate Crimes
If you were arrested or indicted for any of the above offenses, it’s essential to get quality legal representation right away. The prosecutor’s burden of proof is difficult when the crime is incomplete, so the best way to fight the charges is to expose weaknesses and present a solid defense. Our team can assist with the process, so please contact Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney Kevin J. Kulik right away.