Have you ever heard the term inchoate offense? Have you been or are you currently charged with solicitation, conspiracy, or attempt to commit a crime in Colorado? You are in the right place! In Colorado, an individual can be charged with something called an “inchoate” offense. An individual can be charged with an “inchoate” offense when that person involves others in the commission of a crime, attempts to complete a crime, or takes an “overt act” in the completion of the crime, but does not actually complete the intended crime.
Let’s try and unpack this a little.
What is an Inchoate Offense? Here Are Some Examples:
Solicitation (C.R.S.A. § 18-2-301)
What is criminal solicitation?
Solicitation can be considered an inchoate offense. One can be found guilty of solicitation if he or she commands, induces, entreats, or otherwise attempts to persuade another person, or offers his or her services or another’s services to a third person, to commit a felony, whether as principal or accomplice, with intent to promote or facilitate the commission of that crime, and under circumstances strongly corroborative of that intent. C.R.S.A. § 18-2-301.
So what does this mean? If one person asks, commands, or attempts to get another person to commit a crime they are potentially liable for criminal solicitation under Colorado Criminal law. A situation where a party asks another to commit a crime with him or her does not meet the requirements of solicitation but may fall under criminal conspiracy.
What is a defense once I have solicited another to commit a crime?
Even if you have solicited another party to commit a crime or reach an unlawful objective, there is still time to escape liability before the crime has been completed, this is called Renunciation. To claim the defense of renunciation after already soliciting another to commit a crime, one must prevent the commission of the felony, and the effort to stop the crime is both complete and voluntary. Complete means the party will never commit the crime again, just waiting a week or changing the time of the crime would be considered incomplete and is not a defense. Voluntary means the person decided not to go through with the crime due to their own choice not because the crime became harder to complete or the police were present before the crime was committed.
Examples of Solicitation of a Crime
- A asks B to rob a jewelry store. A is guilty of solicitation
- A asks B to rob a jewelry store together. A not guilty of solicitation
- A asks B to rob a jewelry store. A decides not to do it, stops B from doing it and has no intent to rob the store again. Not guilty of Solicitation because of the renunciation defense.
Conspiracy (C.R.S.A. § 18-2-201)
What is a criminal conspiracy?
Conspiracy can be considered an inchoate offense. A person can be found guilty of criminal conspiracy if he agrees with another that they will engage in conduct that constitutes a crime or an attempt to commit a crime. One must have the intent to promote or facilitate the commission of the crime. Helping in the planning of a crime or in the attempt/commission of the crime. C.R.S.A. § 18-2-201. If two people conspire to commit multiple crimes it is still just one big conspiracy involving both parties.
Differences between solicitation and conspiracy?
A major difference between solicitation and conspiracy is that an “overt act” must be done by a party to the conspiracy to be found guilty of conspiracy, while there is no need for an overt act in a solicitation. An overt act is an act that can be clearly proven by evidence and from which criminal intent to commit the crime can be inferred. This is much more than just an intention in the mind to do something.
When does a conspiracy end and is there any defenses?
The conspiracy continues until the crime is completed or the plan to commit the crime is abandoned. Abandonment occurs when no party to the conspiracy committed any overt act. Abandonment only occurs when the person gives timely notice of his intent to withdraw from the conspiracy to the other conspirators and/or informs law enforcement of the conspiracy and his participation in the conspiracy.
Examples of Criminal Conspiracies
- A and B agree to rob a jewelry store together and they buy specific tools needed to rob the store. This is a conspiracy, both A and B can be found guilty.
- A and B agree to rob a jewelry store and the bank next door but never do anything needed to commit the crime. This is still one conspiracy but no overt act was done, neither is guilty of conspiracy.
- A and B agree to rob a jewelry store and the bank next door and buy multiple guns to use in the robbery. This is one conspiracy with an overt act done in furtherance of the crime.
Attempt (C.R.S.A. § 18-2-101)
What is a criminal attempt?
Criminal attempts can be considered an inchoate offense. A person commits a criminal attempt of a crime if she engages in conduct constituting a substantial step toward the commission of the offense. A substantial step is any conduct, whether act, omission, or possession, which is strongly corroborative of the firmness of the actor’s purpose to complete the commission of the offense. Similar to an overt act, a substantial step is something done by the actor that is directly related to the crime that is to be committed. It must be proven that a substantial step was taken in order to be found guilty of a criminal attempt of a crime.
If one attempts to help another person commit a crime they can be found guilty of conspiracy even if the person they are trying to help does not actually commit the crime.
What are the possible defenses to crimes like this?
Renunciation is a defense to criminal attempt if the party involved in the attempted crime makes a complete and voluntary renunciation and they either prevents the commission of the crime or gives up his effort to attempt the crime. If someone has already attempted the crime but was unsuccessful, they are unable to use the defense of renunciation. Only for incomplete attempts of a crime may the actor claim a renunciation defense.
What are the possible penalties for an attempt to commit a crime?
- Criminal attempt to commit a class 1 felony is a class 2 felony
- Criminal attempt to commit a class 2 felony is a class 3 felony
- Criminal attempt to commit a class 3 felony is a class 4 felony
- Criminal attempt to commit a class 4 felony is a class 5 felony
- Criminal attempt to commit a class 5 or 6 felony is a class 6 felony
What to do now?
As you know, these situations are serious and require the expertise of a successful Criminal defense attorney to protect your rights! M. Colin Bresee has experience in defending these kinds of crimes as well as vast experience in prosecuting them. He knows the tips and tricks of the trade. Call or email our office so Mr. Bresee can help you protect your rights and advise you on your unique case.
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