Solicitation/ Commission of a Felony for Hire

Often when we talk about crimes, we’re usually discussing situations in which a person’s intentions were carried out. For example, the store was robbed. The house was burglarized. The person was battered. However, there are some crimes wherein the actions fall short of the final commission. These are referred to as incomplete, or “inchoate” crimes.

Examples are: Attempts, conspiracy and solicitation.

At The Ansara Law Firm, our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers are committed to helping clients who are charged with these crimes. Here in particular we want to discuss solicitation, which can include commission of a felony for hire.

This offense can be charged at either the state or federal level, so we’ll touch on both.

Incomplete Crimes

Incomplete crimes are those that fall somewhere between merely having the idea to commit a crime and actually carrying it out.

Generally, the process of a crime unfolds this way:

  1. Defendant gets an idea for a crime.
  2. Defendant evaluates the idea/ considering whether to proceed.
  3. Defendant decides to go forward with the idea/ agrees with someone else to go forward with it.
  4. Defendant prepares for the crime by obtaining the necessary weapons or tools or making other arrangements.
  5. Defendant begins the crime.
  6. Defendant completes the crime.

Typically, we don’t punish someone for engaging in the first two of these because ideas – no matter how offensive or wrong – generally aren’t criminal. However, once we get to the third and fourth elements, these may be punishable as incomplete crimes.

This is true of cases where someone is hired to commit a felony – even if that felony isn’t actually carried out.

Conspiracy

In cases where one or more persons agrees or conspires with another to commit any offense commits conspiracy, per F.S. 777.04(3).

In order to prove conspiracy, prosecutors have to show defendant intended for the offense to be committed, and that in order to carry out this intention, defendant agreed or conspired with someone else to cause the offense to be committed – by either of them, by one of them or by some other person.

This provision of the law doesn’t specifically reference “payment” or “hiring,” but a paid arrangement could fall within the bounds of a conspiracy charge.

Solicitation

Hiring someone to commit a felony could also fall under the umbrella of solicitation, per F.S. 777.04(2).

Criminal solicitation occurs when someone solicits (asks for or tries to obtain) another to commit an offense that is against the law AND in the course of that solicitation commands, encourages, hires or requests another person engage in specific conduct that would constitute such an offense or attempt to commit such offense.

Penalties for criminal solicitation are decided by first determining the rank of the object offense, and then ranking one level lower. So for example, if you are soliciting/ hiring someone to help you carry out a second-degree felony, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, you can be charged with a third-degree felony for criminal solicitation, which would carry a maximum penalty of up to five years.

Solicitation can be charged as a separate offense from the object offense. What this means is you can be charged with criminal solicitation for an offense even if you personally did not carry out the offense and never had any intention of being personally involved.

Federal Murder-For-Hire

The federal “murder-for-hire” statute was enacted as part of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984.

The law holds that anyone who travels in or causes another (including intended victim) to travel across state or international lines or uses or causes another to use the mail or any facility of interstate or foreign commerce with the intention a murder will be committed in violation of either state or federal statutes for the receipt of or consideration of a promise or agreement of a payment OR who conspires to do any of this violates the federal murder-for-hire law.

This statute is spelled out in 18 U.S.C. 1958.

Federal jurisdiction is established in one of the following ways:

  • Use of the federal mail system.
  • Travel in interstate or foreign commerce.
  • Use of any facility of interstate or foreign commerce.

Case law has held that even a single interstate telephone call can trigger federal jurisdiction. In cases where government agents are using an informant in a murder-for-hire investigation, the government is not allowed to “manufacture the interstate nexus,” that would be necessary for jurisdiction, meaning they can’t set it up in a way that would cause defendant to trigger federal jurisdiction when he or she otherwise wouldn’t have.

If you have been charged with a solicitation or conspiracy in South Florida, contact the Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyers at The Ansara Law Firm by calling (877) 277-3780.