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The concept of an attempt is that an individual tries to commit an offence, but for some reason is unable to fully
complete the offence. They are criminally liable as they are a danger to society in such circumstances.
Defined in s.1 of the Criminal Attempts Act (1981) as an "intent to commit an offence" but the offence is not
committed and so the defendant will be liable if the act "is more than merely preparatory to the commission of
More than merely preparatory.
Gullefer (1987) CoA defined it as going beyond purely preparatory acts and embarking on the crime proper.
Although, after this whether an attempt is committed depends on the facts.
Geddes (1996) CoA laid down the questions for whether an attempt has
o Had the accused moved from planning or preparation to execution or
o Had the accused done an act showing he was actually trying to
commit the full offence, or had he got on as far as getting ready to
Jones (1990) went beyond mere preparation CoA: buying gun, loading it
and disguising himself preparatory. But entering the vehicle and pointing the fun at V was sufficient.
Mens Rea (Attempts).
Prosecution must prove that D possessed necessary intent for the full
offence. If this cannot be proved then D is not liable Easom (1971).
Recklessness is not sufficient (Milard and Vernon, 1987) unless it is
taken into account for one part of the offence e.g. Attorney-General's
Reference (No.3 of 1992) (1994) = CoA prosecution must prove D intended
criminal damage, but are only required to prove D was reckless in
Attempting the Impossible.
HoL's prior to 1981 Act held that attempting impossible cannot lead to liability.
However, ss.1(2) and 1(3) of the CAA (1981) held D can be liable if they
attempt the impossible.
o This took effect in Anderton v Ryan (1985) and Shivpuri (1986) where
it was held the combined effect made D liable even if the commission of the
full offence was impossible.
Evaluation: this shows one of the major ways the CAA (1981) has improved
the law as previously the law was criticised.
Evaluation: The idea that the D can be liable for something impossible is
criticised for its irrationality. The crime being attempted is impossible such
as in Shivpuri (1986) and yet they are liable. Simply because he had intent
to deal drugs does not mean he could he did not possess them.
However, the reason for the concept of impossible acts leading to a charge
is the idea of public interest the person is a likely danger to society.
S.4(1) of CAA (1981) max sentence can be essentially the same as the main offence.
o Evaluation: Some believe that the concept appears too harsh. James Brady for example argues that the
attempt is not the same as the main offence relating to the harm caused. Therefore it does not appear just to
punish the D with the same level of sentence.
o Others may argue that it is justified as the individual is an obvious danger and a disruption to social
stability. Therefore the harsh sentencing should occur.
o Evaluation: It could act as a deterrent as the harsh sentencing could cause people to act in more morally
o Although, some argue that it may be counterproductive as people may believe that they should
go through with the full offence if they are going to receive the same punishment. This is a major
Jamie Cockcroft. Criminal Law: G153.
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Table of Cases.
D climbed onto a greyhound racetrack in an attempt to stop a race. D, at the stage he jumped
on to the track, could not be said to be in the process of committing theft.
D planned to rob a post office. D carried an imitation gun and had a threatening note in his. D
was arrested before he entered the post office. D had not 'embarked on the crime proper', he