Criminal Attempts

Criminal Attempts:

My notes (a distinctly shortened version of them!) for: Attempts (Actus Reus - merely preparatory, mens rea), impossible crimes.

More will be up soon on other areas of law, i.e. murder, non fatal offences etc. Just have to type them!

Please comment or message me if you spot any mistakes as I'd like to know if I've been revising the wrong thing!!!

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  • Created by: Vixxx92
  • Created on: 16-05-11 14:51
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2) Attempts
What is an attempt?
An attempt is where a person tries to commit an offence but fails to complete it.
It is defined in s1(1) of the Criminal Attemps Act (1981) as:
o "If, with intent to commit an offence to which this section applies, a person does an act which is more than merely preparatory to the
commission of the offence, he is guilty of trying to commit the offence"
The Actus Reus of Attempts
Prior to the Criminal Attempts Act (1981) the courts used several different tests to determine whether or not the D had gone close enough to the
commission of the main offence so as to commit an attempt:
o The `Last Act' test: had D gone as far as he could go without actually committing the crime?
o The `Proximity' test: were the D's act so immediately connected to the actus reus of the offence to justify liability for its attempt?
Now the important factor is the "more than merely preparatory" element of the definition. However, it has proven difficult to define this itself!
o Attorney Generals Reference (No 1 of 1992) (1993) ­ D dragged a girl, sexually assaulted her and then tried to rape her. However, he
physically could not have done so. His conviction for attempted rape was upheld. This case decided that `more than merely preparatory' did
not require the D to have gone as far as possible without committing the crime or even commit the crime proper
o R v Gullefer (1987) ­ D invaded a race track in order to have a race declared void and reclaim his money. His act was held to be merely
preparatory and his conviction was quashed. The Court of Appeal defined `more than merely preparatory' as being embarked on the crime
o R v Boyle and Boyle (1987) ­ The D's were found by a door where the lock and a hinge were broken. The CoA used the Gullefer test, the D's
were found guilty. There was an attempt.
o R v Geddes (1996) ­ D was found in the boys toilets of a school with a knife, some rope and some masking tape. He had no right to be there
but as he had no contact with the boys, his conviction for attempted false imprisonment was quashed. Here the court of appeal felt that
attempts should be considered by asking:
Had the accused moved from planning or preparation to execution/implementation?
Had the accused done an act showing he was actually trying to commit the offence or had he got only as far as getting ready/putting
himself in a position to do so?
The Mens Rea of Attempts
For an attempt the D must usually have the Mens Rea that is required for the offence he is attempting to commit.
If the prosecution cannot prove this, the D is not guilty of the attempt.

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R v Easom (1971) ­ D picked up a womans handbag, rummaged through it and then replaced it without taking anything. There was no
evidence he intended to steal anything so he was not guilty of attempted theft.
Is it possible to attempt the impossible?
In some situations the D may intend to, and do everything they can to commit an offence but the offence is actually impossible to commit.…read more

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Discuss whether the current law relating to attempted crimes strikes the right balance between protecting society and convicting those who deserved to be
punished.…read more


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