Understanding NJ Criminal Attempt Charges

Criminal Defense LawyerDid you know that in New Jersey, you can be charged with a crime if your attempt to commit a crime was unsuccessful? Most people think that in order to be charged with a crime, the crime has to go forward. For example, you can be charged with shoplifting if you steal from the Ocean County Mall. However, in NJ, if it can be shown that you were attempting to commit a crime, even if you were unsuccessful, you can be charged with criminal attempt. So, if you attempt to rob a gas station in Point Pleasant or attempt a house burglary in Toms River but are unsuccessful, you can be charged. Confused about this charge? Contact the Villani & DeLuca law firm for guidance and experienced support. They are ready to address all of your questions and concerns.

N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1: The Criminal Attempt Law in NJ

In order to fully understand the law, you have to have a working definition of the word “attempt” as it pertains to criminal activity. In that capacity, a person can be found guilty of an attempt to commit a crime if he or she:

a. Actively engages in conduct that would help to perpetrate the crime, if the crime had occurred.

b. Causes a reaction or result that could be considered an element of a crime, if the crime occurred.

c. Takes away, detracts or omits an action or commits an action that leads to a step forward in a course of plan that would allow the crime to take place.

d. Engages in actions that will actively assist another to commit a crime. This holds true even if the other person does not manage to commit the crime or even attempt to commit the crime.

In Layman’s Terms: Criminal Attempt in NJ

In New Jersey, there are three distinct ways that a crime can be labeled a “criminal attempt” under N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1. Before any charges can be levied, it has to be shown that the defendant was engaged in conduct that was leading toward the commission of crime. He or she had to have either planned to commit a crime actively or to have planned to assist in causing criminal action. Once this prerequisite is established, then the three ways of charging a person with criminal attempt come into play.

    1. The Reasonable Belief Standard: An individual can be held legally accountable for a crime when his or her actions, conduct or behavior, if examined from the point of view of a reasonable person, would have constituted a crime.
    2. The Last Proximate Act: The basis of this conviction is that the accused has done all in his or her power to bring about the crime, whether or not the crime was successful in its implementation.
    3. The Substantial Step: An individual can be brought up on these charges if his or her actions, behavior or conduct can be shown to have been an essential step in causing a crime to occur or an attempted crime to occur.

Criminal Attempt of Disorderly Persons Charges

This charge does not apply to conduct that would normally result in a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense. For example, to be charged with criminal attempt in Long Branch, the accused has to be attempting to commit a crime. They cannot merely be behaving in a manner of disorder. In addition, if you are charged with criminal attempt, you cannot also be charged with a disorderly persons charge; you must be charged with one offense or the other.

The Renunciation Defense

There is one way to defend the charge of criminal attempt. It must be shown that the accused, in a voluntary manner, chose to completely abandon all actions of a criminal purpose. The accused must prove through evidence that he or she gave up on the effort to commit the crime or worked to prevent that commission of the crime.

Penalties for Criminal Attempt Charges

If you are charged with criminal attempt of a crime, the punishments that are handed down are the same punishments you would face if the crime was successful. Therefore, if you are convicted of criminal attempt in Asbury Park for burglary, your punishment would be the same as if you had successfully carried out that crime. If you are convicted of criminal attempt for drug distribution in Toms River, again, your punishment would be the same as if you had been successful with the sales and distribution of the drug in question.

Contact a Criminal Lawyer

A criminal attempt charge can be tricky and difficult to mitigate. If you or a loved one has been charged with criminal attempt, allow the lawyers at Villani & DeLuca to help prepare your renunciation defense. We can lend our experience to your individual case and work toward a positive outcome. Call today!

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