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An undertaking to do an act that entails more than mere preparation but does not result in the successful completion of the act.

In Criminal Law, an attempt to commit a crime is an offense when an accused makes a substantial but unsuccessful effort to commit a crime. The elements of attempt vary, although generally, there must be an intent to commit the crime, an Overt Act beyond mere preparation, and an apparent ability to complete the crime.

Generally, attempts are punishable by imprisonment, with sentence lengths that vary in time, depending upon the severity of the offense attempted.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


v. and n. to actually try to commit a crime and have the ability to do so. This means more than just thinking about doing a criminal act or planning it without overt action. It also requires the opportunity and ability. Attempts can include attempted murder, attempted robbery, attempted rape, attempted forgery, attempted arson, and a host of other crimes. The person accused cannot attempt to commit murder with an unloaded gun or attempt rape over the telephone. The attempt becomes a crime in itself, and usually means one really tried to commit the crime, but failed through no fault of himself or herself. Example: if a husband laces his wife's cocktail with cyanide, it is no defense that by chance the intended victim decided not to drink the deadly potion. One defendant claimed he could not attempt rape in an old Model A coupe because it was too cramped to make the act possible. The court threw out this defense. Sometimes a criminal defendant is accused of both the crime (e.g. robbery) and the attempt in case the jury felt he tried but did not succeed.

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.


an attempted crime is one that is not completed. Because the criminal law focuses so much on the mental state of the offender, it has long been established that a mere failure to carry through the act intended by the wrongdoer will not allow him to escape criminal liability. To be criminal, matters must have progressed from preparation to perpetration: thus, the purchase of a mask and a glass-cutting tool maybe insufficient whereas wandering the streets at night, mask on face and cutter in hand, might be enough. A hand in a pocket, which never reaches the wallet, is an attempted theft.

In England, the common law was supplemented by statute to create a statutory offence of attempt. This applies to any act that is done with intent to commit an indictable offence and is more than merely preparatory. It is a crime even to attempt the impossible.

In Scotland, in terms of statute all attempts to commit a crime are criminal offences. It is attempted theft even if there is nothing in the pocket to steal, although it was held not possible to attempt to procure an abortion by supplying the necessary materials where the woman was not in fact pregnant.

Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

ATTEMPT, criminal law. An attempt to commit a crime, is an endeavor to accomplish it, carried beyond mere preparation, but falling short of execution of the ultimate design, in any part of it.
     2. Between preparations and attempts to commit a crime, the distinction is in many cases, very indeterminate. A man who buys poison for the purpose of committing a murder, and mixes it in the food intended for his victim, and places it on a table where he may take it, will or will not be guilty of an attempt to poison, from the simple circumstance of his taking back the poisoned food before or after the victim has had an opportunity to take it; for if immediately on putting it down, he should take it up, and, awakened to a just consideration of the enormity of the crime, destroy it, this would amount only to preparations and certainly if before he placed it on the table, or before he mixed the poison with the food, he had repented of his intention there would have been no attempt to commit a crime; the law gives this as a locus penitentiae. An attempt to commit a crime is a misdemeanor; and an attempt to commit a misdemeanor, is itself a misdemeanor. 1 Russ. on Cr. 44; 2 East, R. 8; 3 Pick. R. 26; 3 Benth. Ev. 69; 6 C. & P. 368.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
Both played a 1-1 draw in the first match when Riaz slammed in a beautiful goal on the field attempt and Javed scored an equalizer through field attempt.
ABOUT ONE-THIRD of enlisted soldiers who attempt suicide do not have a history of mental illness, say the authors of a retrospective longitudinal study among U.S.
He also set a new Games record in the snatch with a successful lift of 117kg in his second attempt. He bettered the previous record of 116kg set by his compatriot Ibrahim at the New Delhi Games in 2010.
ISLAMABAD -- Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in last year received more than five hundred female patients who had attempted suicide because of emotional distress, financial constraints and domestic problems, said an official on Wednesday.
They gave us four attempts, but since the students are young, I don't think they could've sustained it.
He proved that in England attempted suicide was a crime while in Scotland it was not, though the prevalence of attempted suicide was the same.
Sohrab Moradi cleared a weight of 176kg in the first attempt, followed by 181kg and 185kg in the second and third attempt of the Snatch while failed to clear 220kg weight in the first attempt of the Clean and Jerk but he made it in the second attempt and cleared a good 228kg in the third attempt to score an aggregated total 413kg and took gold medal, followed by Sobirov Farhodbek who in his first attempt of Snatch cleared a weight of 175kg, failed to clear another 180kg in the second attempt and in the third attempt succeeded in clearing 181kg.
Also, soldiers in a unit with five or more suicide attempts in the past year had more than twice the odds of suicide attempt than soldiers in a unit with no previous suicide attempts.
According to the NTRA's report, Egypt Telecom (TE) topped the mobile operators' in the Mobile Internet Service Quality Index after testing 5,856 attempts over its network, where none of them were blocked and only ten of them were interrupted.
So for the rest of the Easter holidays, no such attempts will take place.
The Florida "offense of criminal attempt" occurs when one "attempts to commit an offense [and] does any act toward the commission of such offense, but fails in the perpetration or is ...