Elements of “Attempt” in Criminal Law

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An ‘attempt at crime’ occurs when someone attempts but fails to commit a crime. The ‘Law of Attempt’ under the IPC prevents offenders from attempting the offence again, thereby making society safer. The term ‘attempt’ does not have a meaning in the Indian Penal Code. Section 511 of the IPC only deals with penalties for attempting to commit crimes. ‘A’ attempts to steal any precious items by smashing a crate, only to discover that there is nothing inside after opening the box. While no offence happened in this instance, it is punishable under the Indian Penal Code because it is considered an “attempt to commit a crime.” An attempt to commit a crime takes place when an individual has an appropriate mindset and steps towards carrying out a criminal act by arranging the means and methods required for the commission of the crime but fails to do so. Then it is said that the person has attempted to commit a crime.

Within the Indian Penal Code, an attempt to commit an offence is a crime. An attempt that fails to succeed must produce a danger in the minds of people and is an injury in and of itself, and the offender’s moral guilt is the same as if he had succeeded. Only half of the punishment is given under Section 511 of the IPC when the injury is not as severe as it would be if the offence had been committed.

The elements of actus reus and mens rea are necessary for the commission of any crime. Actus reus: Action or conduct is an element of a crime

Mens rea refers to the intent or knowledge of wrongdoing that is required to commit a crime.

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The actus reus to commit a crime is not fulfilled here, but the men’s rea to commit the same crime is accomplished in an attempt, so the attempt is said to have been fulfilled at this stage.

While the term “attempt” is not defined in the IPC, the Supreme Court has tried to clarify the concept of “attempt” in a few cases. The Supreme Court ruled in the case of Koppula Venkata Rao vs. State of A.P. that the word “attempt” should be interpreted in its ordinary sense. The ordinary definition of an ‘attempt’ to commit an offence is an act or series of actions that inevitably leads to the commission of the offence until anything occurs that neither the doer of the act foresaw nor expected to deter it.

In the case of Aman Kumar v. the State of Haryana, an attempt is described as follows: The intent to commit the offence is what constitutes an attempt.

  • If someone fails to achieve that intention.
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Abhayanand Mishra vs. Bihar State – The Supreme Court, in this case, described essential elements of “attempt” as follows:

i) The accused intends or has the means to commit the intended offence.

ii) He has taken a turn in the right direction (that is an act or step which was more than preparatory to the commission of the intended offence towards the commission of the contemplated offence).

iii) For whatever reason, he was unable to commit the intended offence.

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The Supreme Court ruled in Aman Kumar v State of Haryana that the term “attempt” should be used in its ordinary sense. There is a distinction to be made between intending to commit an offence and preparing to do so. The attempt begins, and the preparation comes to an end. It means that every step towards committing the crime results at the end of planning and the start of an attempt.

“Punishment for attempting to commit crimes is punishable by a life sentence or other imprisonments,” according to Section 511 of the IPC. This section deals with the one-half of a life sentence or one-half of a fine, whichever is greater, for offences or both.

There are four stages in the commission of an offence:

1) Intention: No one can prove malice by staring at offenders’ heads. It’s a psychological aspect to consider. It is difficult to determine a person’s true intentions. People’s actions and the context in which they behave, on the other hand, are often used to explicitly demonstrate a person’s intention. As a result, it isn’t punishable. Exception – Sedition (Section 124A)

2) Preparation: To prepare means or measures to commit a criminal act. It’s impossible to prove that the planning was done with the intention of committing a crime. For example, if ‘A’ buys a knife with the intent of killing ‘B,’ his plan to kill ‘B’ changes over time, and he uses the knife in the kitchen. As a result, we cannot be found responsible for arranging murderous ways and measures. As a result, mere planning is not a crime under the IPC.

3) Attempt: After making preparations, an attempt to commit a crime is essentially a proactive step toward committing the planned crime. The suspect cannot reverse his or her mind to revert to its original state without committing a crime after the attempt has been made.

4) Commission of Crime: Criminal liability arises from the direct commission of the offence. The crime is committed if the accused succeeds in his attempt. If he misses, it is regarded as an attempt to commit a crime.


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