Is there a Criminal Liability for Attempting to Commit a Crime?

Many people who come for advice to our law office have difficulty in understanding the alleged attempt to commit a crime. In practice, we often face the surprise of the accused for attempted beatings or theft. The accused say that since there has been no bodily injury or seizure of property, there is no reason to charge them with crimes.

The provisions of the Polish criminal law (penal code) provide for solutions allowing to be held responsible for the preparation or attempted crime.

Attempted to commit a crime

Attempted to commit a crime

An attempt is made when a person intending to commit a crime directly intends to make it, which, however, does not follow.

We can talk about trying to commit a crime as a separate category when the perpetrator with his behavior directly aims at his accomplishment, which does not follow, and without realizing that he has no way to do it.

In order to determine the basis and scope of responsibility for the attempt, there is a significant reason why the crime is not subject to intent. Failure to comply can be:

  • due to the interference of another person either
  • as a result of voluntary withdrawal from committing or
  • the result of the lack of the possibility of committing a crime, caused by the use of an unfit to commit an offense or the lack of an object suitable for committing a crime on it – this is called Incomplete attempts (the perpetrator is unaware that it is not possible to commit a crime from the very beginning).

Inconvenient attempt

Inconvenient attempt

Clumsy attempts occur, in particular, in the following cases:

  • in the case of hacking an empty money box (when the perpetrator has broken in ignorance of the lack of money, attempting to inadvertently steal a burglary does not exclude liability for destruction of property);
  • if you try to poison a substance that does not have poisonous properties;
  • in the case of firing a shot from a firearm into a wax figure (when the perpetrator was convinced that he was shooting a man).

To make an attempt to commit a crime, it is necessary to establish the intention of committing a crime and gathering evidence allowing to state that the perpetrator has already entered the last stage of the intention (i.e., finding the directness of the attempt to commit a crime).

The penalty for an attempt is met within the limits of the punishment provided for the offense.

There are two punishable attempts of clumsy – inept due to lack of object or due to the unserviceability of the measure. The remaining cases of clumsy attempts are unpunished for de lege lata.

In the case of an inept attempt, the court may apply extraordinary mitigation of punishment or refrain from imposing it.

Withdrawal from an attempt to commit a crime

Withdrawal from an attempt to commit a crime

A person who voluntarily waived or prevented the effect of being a prohibited act is not punishable. In the face of a person who voluntarily tried to prevent an effect constituting the mark of a prohibited act, the court may apply extraordinary mitigation of punishment.

Examples from practice

Examples from practice

The laundering of the perpetrator in the ambush exceeds the limits of preparation laid out by the kk, hence it is an attempt.

Previous activities that directly lead to sexual intercourse, in particular the use of violence or the threat to exclude or break the resistance of the victim, constitute attempted rape crime.

In the case of the crime of robbery, attempts to commit it can only be made in the case if the actions of the perpetrator were directed directly against both property and against the person. Bringing a state of unconsciousness in order to take away the victim’s keys from the apartment and rob him will not yet attempt to rob, when the perpetrator only performs activities aimed at bringing the victim to a state of unconsciousness. Only taking the victim’s keys and trying to enter the apartment will be an attempt to rob.

If a movable item is protected by electronic security, which allows access to it only by entering the correct code (banomat), then attempting to take this item by using a different access code is using a measure unfit to commit burglary and decides that such an act should be recognized Incomplete attempts in the sense of An attempt to seize the money using an ATM card, when the perpetrator knows the PIN code, but the account has no money is an attempt to be inept in committing a prohibited act.

One of the victims had something that could be the object of an act of robbery, but it was not the thing that the perpetrators expected. The act of the perpetrators was an attempt of incompetent robbery, while the fact that the subject of protection of an offense by the provision of 280.1 of the Penal Code is, next to property, also life and health does not change this assessment.

The crimes of robbery did not occur because the victim did not have the money, and this allows the act to be considered as completed at the stage of an inept attempt.