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I. Attempt Crimes: PC 664


Legal Definition: Every person who attempts to commit any crime, but fails, or is prevented or intercepted in its perpetration, shall be punished where no provision is made by law for the punishment of those attempts.

Any attempt crime is generally listed with the PC 664 in front of the underlying offense. For example, Attempted Murder would appear is a violation of PC 664/187. An Attempt crime is essentially when a person tries to commit a crime but does not actually complete the crime. An obvious example of Attempted Murder would be, that the victim survived the attack.

II. What does this mean?


If you stab a person, with the specific intent to kill that person, but that person does not actually die, you could be charged with attempted murder. However, if you intend to stab another person, but lack that intent, you could not be charged with PC 664/187. Instead, you only had the intent to injure, not kill, the other person.

To prove you are guilty of an attempted crime it must prove that you took a substantial step towards the commission of the crime, coupled with the specific intent to complete that crime. So in essence, it requires you to intend (mentally) do to the act, as well as you actually doing the act (physically).

To show that you made a substantial step towards the commission of the crime means that you had to have done something beyond mere preparation that demonstrates your intent to commit the target crime. Many people driving in traffic want to say that they would kill a driver for cutting them off on the freeway. They may even fantasize about actually killing them. But that thought is not enough. If, for example, you decided to follow that driver, ride their rear bumper, and tried to run them off the road but didn’t succeed, then you attempted to do the crime. 

Having a plan is important because it shows you have the mental intent require to commit the act. But preparation must be followed with something to further the act. For example, if you are intending to rob a bank with your friends, getting masks, gloves, guns, and getting the floor plans of the bank is preparation. If you arrive at the location, all dressed, walk into the door, but are arrested immediately, then you have committed an Attempted Robbery(link). The act of preparation, plus entering the bank, is that substantial step towards commission. Alternately, if you simply plan, but never actually go to the bank, or doing more, you cannot be found guilty of Attempted Robbery under PC 664/211.

III. Penalties


Attempt crimes are either misdemeanors or felonies depending on what crime you were attempting to commit.

For a violation under PC 664(a), for any felony case, you could be punished upwards of half of whatever the underlying felony charge would be. For example, a violation under PC 288a, where the maximum exposure is 16 months, 2 or 3 years in State Prison, under PC 664/288a, becomes a maximum penalty of 8 months, 1 year, or 1.5 years in State Prison.

However, if the crime attempted is willful, deliberate, and premeditated murder, the person guilty of that attempt shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for life with the possibility of parole. If the crime attempted is any other one in which the maximum sentence is life imprisonment or death, the person guilty of the attempt shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for five, seven, or nine years.

For a violation of PC 664(b), for any misdemeanor case, you could be punished upwards of half of whatever the underlying misdemeanor charge would be. For example, a violation under PC 422(a) as a misdemeanor offense, your maximum punishment is up to one year in County Jail. However, under an Attempted Crime under PC 664/422(a), your maximum punishment could be up to six months.

IV. Common Defenses


  1. Violation of your Rights
  2. Insufficient Evidence
  3. Intoxication

Attacking an Attempt crime, means to in most cases, attack the underlying offense. However, a common defense is to find that you lacked the Specific Intent to commit the underlying, attempted crime. Instead, you intended to injury or hurt, rather than intended to kill under PC 187(a). Further, if you merely planned, rather than making a substantial step, then it cannot be considered an Attempt crime. Finally, the underlying charge’s elements must also be met in order to sustain a charge under this section.

V. Call Today


An attempted crime can be just as serious as the underlying offense. Finding an attorney who understand the crucial elements required to sustain a charge can be the difference between you receiving a probation term, or ending up in State Prison for an extended time period. Our Ontario Criminal Defense Attorney has handled hundreds of cases, including Attempt crimes. The initial consultation is free and we are available to answer your questions 24/7. Call the Inland Empire Criminal Defense today at 909-939-7126! Located in Ontario.

Disclaimer: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor should it be considered the formation of a lawyer or attorney-client relationship. If you would like to find out more information about your particular legal matter, contact our office for a consultation.

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