Inchoate Crimes: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 Definition of Inchoate Crime
  • 1:33 Examples
  • 2:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Schubert

Jessica is a practicing attorney and has taught law and has a J.D. and LL.M.

In law, there is a certain type of crime called an 'inchoate crime'. Learn what constitutes an inchoate crime, and see examples to get a thorough understanding of what inchoate crimes are.

Definition of Inchoate Crime

Have you ever started a project and then left it unfinished? Maybe you were interrupted in the middle of the project, or you moved on and simply forgot about it altogether? You had every intention of completing the project, but for some reason were unable to. If so, we might say your project was inchoate. Well, this is similar to the idea behind inchoate crimes.

Inchoate crimes are crimes that are unfinished. These crimes are also known as incomplete crimes. One type of inchoate crime is the attempt to commit crime. An attempt to commit crime occurs when a person tries to carry out a crime but fails to do so.

A conspiracy to commit a crime constitutes another type of inchoate crime. Conspiracy to commit a crime happens when one party agrees with another party to commit a crime. The crime may or may not be carried out, but when the crime is inchoate, the underlying crime is not actually completed. Thus, if the crime is for murder, the inchoate crime is conspiracy to commit murder. The murder is not actually committed.

Additionally, solicitation to commit a crime is also an inchoate crime. Solicitation occurs when one party requests another party to engage in a crime. The person soliciting the crime is charged with the crime, whether the crime is committed or not.

Finally, in all inchoate crimes, it is critical that the perpetrators of the crime have the mens rea, or mental intention, to perform the crime. Without the mens rea, the person cannot be held guilty for committing the crime.

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