What is a Maryland “attempt” crime and how is that different from a “conspiracy” crime?

Understanding attempted crimes and conspiracy crimes can be difficult because they both fall under the category of incomplete, or inchoate, crimes. In both cases the defendant is being charged even though the underlying crime may not have been successfully carried out.

Maryland Attempt Crimes

In Maryland, a defendant can be charged with an attempt to commit a crime, even when that crime was not completed. If someone intends to kill someone and takes a loaded gun, points the gun at the victim, and shoots and kills that person–that’s a murder. But if that person shoots and instead of hitting the person the bullet harmlessly misses, it can’t be a murder because no one was killed. But it can be an attempted murder.

The law in Maryland is that an attempted crime occurs when the defendant takes a substantial step, beyond mere preparation, toward the commission of the crime and that they intend to commit that crime. Therefore, if someone only prepares to commit a crime but has not yet taken a substantial step, then that is a defense that their attorney should use.

Someone cannot be charged with both an attempt to commit a crime and the actual crime itself because by definition an attempt means that the person tried but was not successful in carrying out the criminal act. In Maryland, the maximum punishment for an attempt cannot exceed that of the punishment for the underlying offense.

Maryland Conspiracy Law

Conspiracy in Maryland consists of an agreement between two or more parties to engage in an illegal act. There does not necessarily have to be any overt action taken by the parties to be found guilty of the crime, rather all that is required is that they have come to an agreement to commit the crime.

One cannot be guilty of a conspiracy by themselves–there must be someone else who agreed to engage in the criminal act. Also, someone can be charged with both a conspiracy to commit a crime and the actual crime itself, if the crime was successfully carried through.

Attempt and conspiracy crimes can be confusing to understand and sometimes it may not be clear why someone is being charged with these crimes. To learn more about attempt or conspiracy crimes in Maryland, contact the Law Offices of Christopher L. Peretti at 301-875-3472 for a complimentary consultation.

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