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NJ Criminal Attempt Defense Lawyer

Many times, people who start to commit a crime fail to complete it, for reasons ranging from getting scared and not being able to go through with it to be being caught by the police before they could pull it off. However, you may be surprised to learn that, even if you do not complete the actions required to constitute a particular crime, you can still be charged with a criminal attempt in many cases. You may be even more surprised to learn that the penalties for an attempt are the same as those for the underlying crime, meaning that you could face high fines and long jail sentences even for a crime that was never fully committed.

At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our skilled NJ criminal attempt defense lawyers have years of experience successfully defending clients charged with this crime throughout South Jersey and the entire state. We understand the complex legal rules about what does and does not constitute an attempt and will fight to get your charges downgraded or dismissed and to bring your case to the most positive possible resolution. For a free consultation, call us today at (609) 616-4956.

Definition of a Criminal Attempt in NJ

In NJ, attempts can only be charged for indictable offenses, the state’s equivalent of a felony, and not for disorderly persons offenses, the state’s version of misdemeanors. According to the relevant statute, there are three ways someone can commit a criminal attempt in NJ. First, one commits a criminal attempt if one “purposefully engages in conduct which would constitute the crime if the attendant circumstances were as a reasonable person would believe them to be.” This is known as the “reasonable belief standard.”

The second way that you can commit an attempted crime is if one “does or omits to do anything with the purpose of causing such result without further conduct on [their] part” in a situation “where causing a particular result is an element of the crime.” For example, if you set up a bomb to kill your ex-spouse and put it on a timer, but the bomb is faulty due to a mistake you made in the wiring and never goes off, you can still be charged with attempted murder. This is known as the “last proximate act” standard and basically means you have done all you thought you needed to do for the crime to happen, but you were foiled due to a mistake or events beyond your control.

The third and final way that the statute says a person can commit a criminal attempt is if one “purposefully does or omits to do anything, which, under the circumstances as a reasonable person would believe them to be, is an act or omission constituting a substantial step in a course of conduct planned to culminate in [their] commission of the crime.” For example, if you prepare to commit a bank robbery, show up to the bank with a gun and a ski mask, and scream for everybody to get down on the ground, only to be tackled by a security guard who foils your plan, this would likely be enough to constitute attempted robbery. This is known as the “substantial step” test.

What Are the Penalties for Criminal Attempts in NJ?

As noted in the introduction section above, the potential penalties if you are convicted for an attempted crime ae the same as if you had been convicted of the underlying crime. For example, attempted robbery will typically, like robbery, be a second-degree crime punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison and up to $150,000 in fines. Furthermore, any conviction for criminal attempt will show up on your criminal record, making it more difficult to find gainful employment, receive certain benefits, and be licensed in some professions.

How Can A Lawyer Help Me with My Criminal Attempt Case?

A skilled NJ criminal attempt lawyer will be able to look at the particulars of your case and, combined with our knowledge of the law and experience in prior cases, come up with the best defense to get the prosecutor to downgrade or dismiss the charges against you. There is an affirmative defense of renunciation that is written into the statute of the text. This applies to situations where we can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that you “abandoned [your] effort to commit the crime or otherwise prevented its commission, under circumstances manifesting a complete and voluntary renunciation of [your] criminal purpose.” For example, if you buy the materials to commit arson on a rival’s house but feel too guilty and back out on the night you were meant to burn the house down, we can argue that you renounced your criminal purpose and therefore cannot be found guilty of an attempt.

In some cases for attempts of relatively minor crimes, we may be able to convince the prosecutor to let you into a pre-trial diversion program or enter a plea in abeyance. In either case, if you fulfill the court’s requirements, your charges will be dropped and you will not have a criminal record. Other deals could include the charge being downgraded to something less serious or the prosecutor agreeing to recommend a lenient sentence in exchange for you pleading guilty. Of course, if you do not wish to take a deal, our skilled trial attorneys are ready and able to fight for your innocence in the courtroom, using the renunciation defense or another argument to fight to convince the judge or jury to render a not guilty verdict.

Call Our Skilled NJ Criminal Attempt Defense Lawyers Today

Convictions for attempts of crimes can bring about penalties that are just as serious as those that would apply if you had completed the crime. At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our experienced NJ criminal attempt defense lawyers will be there with you every step of the way throughout the criminal process, answering any questions you may have and serving as your fearless advocate. We will fight to bring your case to the most positive conclusion possible. Call us today at (609) 616-4956 for a free consultation.


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