In Massachusetts, attempting to commit a crime constitutes a crime itself. A conviction for attempt carries a potential prison sentence, the length of which is determined by the maximum penalty of the attempted crime.
In order to convict a defendant of attempting to commit a crime, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
An overt act is a real, physical action taken by the defendant. An individual who makes plans to commit a crime, or talks about committing a crime, cannot be convicted of attempt to commit a crime without performing an overt act toward the commission of the crime.
The Commonwealth bears the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to commit the crime that was allegedly attempted. Proving intent is sometimes difficult, as the prosecutor is required to ask the jury to speculate about what the defendant was thinking during the alleged planning stage of the crime.
Because it is not illegal to talk about committing a crime or even to begin to plan to commit a crime, these cases often turn on whether the prosecutor can prove the defendant committed the overt act required for a conviction. A common defense is that while the defendant contemplated violating the law, he never committed an overt act that would have put into motion the chain of events that would have constituted the crime.
Chris Spring has handled hundreds of cases alleging attempt to commit a crime, both as a prosecutor in the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office and as a defense attorney. If you are charged with attempting to commit a crime, Attorney Spring has the necessary experience to aggressively defend your case.