Attempt is the activity leading to the commission of an offense. It is the act done to commit an offense but does not produce the result desired by its author.
Attempt in criminal law: definition and conditions
The conditions of the attempt in criminal law are defined by Article 121-5 of the Penal Code. According to that article, an attempt to commit an offense is made when, manifested by a commencement of execution, it was suspended or failed to do so only because of circumstances beyond the control of its author.
Two conditions must therefore be met for an attempt to commit an offense to be punishable: a commencement of execution and the absence of voluntary withdrawal .
The absence of voluntary withdrawal
If the withdrawal of the agent is voluntary, that is to say if he changes his mind, without having been pushed or coerced, the attempt is not punishable. This withdrawal must also be prior to the consumption of the offense.
On the other hand, since the discontinuance of the agent was caused by an external influence, it is considered that it is not voluntary. The attempt is in this case punishable because if he could, he would be at the end of his project.
Certain particular situations are punishable under the attempt. This is the case of the missed offense.
Example : the shooter misses his target.
This is still the case of the impossible offense.
Example : the attempted murder of a person who has already died, which the agent does not know when he performs his act.
Suppression of the attempt in criminal law
The attempt is punishable under Article 121-4 of the Criminal Code: a person who has attempted to commit a crime or, in the cases provided for by law, an offense, is considered to have committed the offense.
This means that the perpetrator of an attempt incurs the same penalties as the perpetrator of an offense.
Example : murder is punishable by 30 years of criminal imprisonment, whether consummated or simply attempted.
In practice, however, sentences are less severe when the offense has only been attempted and the result has not been achieved.
It is clear from Article 121-4 of the Penal Code that the attempted crime (most serious offenses) is always punishable, even without anticipation of the law, whereas the attempted crime (offenses of medium gravity) must be specifically provided for. by the incrimination text of the offense concerned. The attempted contravention (less serious offenses) is never punishable.