Attempt to Commit a Crime

In Florida, it is a crime to attempt, solicit or conspire to commit a crime – even if the crime itself is ever actually carried out. One way to think about these offenses is to consider that they are each stops along the road to the commission of a crime. While an attempt to commit a crime can involve a single person, solicitation and conspiracy must involve a third party.

At The Ansara Law Firm, our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers recognize the severity of these offenses, but we also know there are often a number of solid legal defenses and strategies that can work in your favor. We work diligently to ensure your rights and best interests are protected.

What Is an Attempt to Commit a Crime?

Florida law – specifically F.S. 777.04(1) – defines “attempt to commit a crime” as an attempt to commit an offense that is forbidden by law AND in such an attempt “does any act toward the commission” of such offense,” yet is intercepted or prevented from actual execution of the crime.

This means that not only do prosecutors have to show that you not only had the intention to commit a crime, but also that you took some action in furtherance of that intention.

In other words:

  • Defendant went beyond simply thinking or talking about a crime.
  • Defendant would have been successful in committing the crime, except that:
    1. Someone or something stopped defendant;
    2. Defendant was not successful.

One of the ways we might defend an attempt to commit a crime is specifically outlined in F.S. 777.04(5)(a). This statute indicates that a valid defense could be asserted if defendant abandoned his or her attempt to commit the crime or otherwise prevented it from happening. For this defense to apply, defendants need to indicate a complete and voluntary renunciation of the criminal purpose.

What is Solicitation?

F.S. 777.04(2) describes solicitation as occurring when someone solicits another person to commit an illegal act and in the course of doing so commands, encourages, hires or requests another person to engage in conduct that would constitute such offense or an attempt to commit such offense.

To “solicit” means to try to induce or ask earnestly to do something.

What prosecutors will need to prove is:

  • Defendant asked someone to commit a crime AND;
  • While discussing the crime, defendant directed, encouraged, invited, asked or hired another person to commit a crime or attempt to commit a crime.

Unlike with an attempt, it’s not necessary with solicitation that you personally did anything in furtherance of the offense that was solicited. In other words, let’s say you encourage someone to kill your spouse. You don’t need to commit any act or make a payment in order to be convicted for solicitation of murder.

Whether anyone actually goes through with the act is irrelevant to whether you will be convicted. Another example: You approach a sex worker and ask for a sexual favor in exchange for money. However, it turns out the “prostitute” was actually an undercover police officer. You can be arrested immediately after asking the other person to exchange sex for money – even if you never actually exchanged money.

A defense to solicitation is found in F.S. 777.04(5)(b). This section indicates that if after you solicit someone to commit an offense and then persuade that person not to commit the offense or otherwise prevent its commission, then you can’t be convicted of the crime of solicitation.

What is Conspiracy?

A conspiracy occurs when a defendant goes beyond simply asking someone else to commit a crime, and involves the defendant agreeing with the other person to carry out a crime together. It should be noted that per F.S. 777.04(3), it’s not necessary for a defendant to orally agree to this kind of arrangement, and it’s also not necessary to show that both parties went through with the act.

What prosecutors need to prove conspiracy is:

  • Defendant asked another person to commit a crime AND;
  • Defendant agreed with the other person to commit a crime.

If after conspiring to commit a crime, defendant either convinced or prevented the other person from carrying out the crime, defendant will not be convicted of conspiracy.

Penalties for Attempt, Solicitation and Conspiracy

Punishment for these offenses really depends on the severity of the underlying crime. For example, if we’re talking about prostitution, which is generally a second-degree misdemeanor, solicitation is going to be a second-degree misdemeanor also, which carries a maximum 60-day jail sentence and a $500 fine.

However, if we’re talking about a much more serious underlying offense, the penalties will be higher. For example, if the offense is a third-degree felony theft, the penalty for attempt, solicitation or conspiracy will be a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison.

If we’re talking about second-degree murder, which is a first-degree felony, the crime of attempt, solicitation or conspiracy is a second-degree felony, which carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence. In some cases, an attempt, solicitation or conspiracy can carry a maximum prison term of 30 years.

If you are arrested in Florida for attempt, solicitation or conspiracy, contact an experienced South Florida criminal defense lawyer to learn more about how we can help.

Contact Fort Lauderale criminal defense lawyers at The Ansara Law Firm by calling (877) 277-3780 or send us an email. We serve clients in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties.