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Penal Code Sections 21a and 664 Attempt Crimes

Apr 14, 2019 | Criminal Defense

Under California Penal Code 21a and 664 (PC- 21a) and (PC-664)an attempt crime is an act of intending to commit a crime and taking direct but ultimately ineffective steps toward committing that crime.

According to Judicial Council of California’s Criminal Jury Instructions
prosecutor must establish the following elements for proving that defendant
attempted a crime:

  • Defendant specifically intended to commit a
  • Defendant took a direct but ineffective step
    toward the commission of that crime

Specific Intent

Defendant can’t be found guilty of a crime of attempt unless it can be
proven that he had a specific intent to commit the underlying crime. Defendant
can commit the crime of attempt even if he has changed his mind before actually
completing the crime.

Direct Step Toward the Commission of a Crime

Direct step requires more just preparing or planning to commit a crime, or obtaining or arranging for something needed to commit crime.

A direct step goes beyond preparation and planning and shows explicit and definite intent to commit a crime. It is not a simple desire to commit a crime; it must be an obviously evident step toward the commission of the crime that would have come to fruition. In case the plan is abandoned at any time before the direct step, the defendant cannot be found guilty.

Differences Between Conspiracy and Attempt Crimes in California

Under California PC defendant is guilty of conspiracy when:

  • He intentionally entered into an agreement
    with one or more other people to commit a crime
  • He committed an overt act in furtherance of
    that agreement

Subsequently, conspiracy requires an
agreement with another person while there is no such requirement in an
attempt crime. And the “overt act”
does not need to be as a direct step toward committing the crime, it can just
be an act of preparation to commit a crime.

Common attempt crimes in California:

  • Attempted Murder: California Penal Code Section 664/187
  • Attempted Robbery: California Penal Code Section 664/211
  • Attempted Rape: California Penal Code Section 664/261
  • Attempted Burglary: California Penal Code Section 664/459
  • Attempted Kidnapping: California Penal Code Section 664/207
  • Attempted Theft: California Penal Code Section 664/484

Penalties for Attempt Crime Penal Code 664

Under California PC Section 664 attempted crime can be charged as either
a misdemeanors or felony offense, depending on the underlying crime. Potential penalties
for most attempted crimes include:

  • Half the potential county jail or California
    state prison sentence for the underlying offense
  • Half the maximum potential fines for the
    underlying offense

The general rule is that the maximum sentence for an attempted crime
depends on the maximum sentence for the crime the defendant is alleged to have

Here are few exceptions to the rule:

  • In case the crime of attempting carries a potential sentence of either life in prison or the death penalty, defendant will be sentenced to  five, seven, or nine years in California state prison
  • In case the defendant is convicted of attempted murder in the first degree (willfully and with premeditation) he will be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
  • In case the attempted murder was made against a peace officer, a firefighter or custodial officer defendant will receive a sentence of fifteen years to life in state prison, with an added mandatory minimum sentence without parole for 15 years.

Have you been arrested for a crime in or around Los Angeles County, California? If so, a Glendale criminal defense lawyer from Kaas Law can provide you with legal assistance today.