K. Attempts and Other Unfulfilled Crimes

AuthorKent Roach
ProfessionFaculty of Law and Centre of Criminology. University of Toronto

Page 11

The criminal law intervenes even before the accused has committed the criminal act required for a complete crime. Thus, a person who attempts to steal an object but fails can be charged with attempted theft. Section 24 of the Criminal Code states that anyone, having an intent to commit an offence, who does or omits to do anything beyond mere preparation to commit a criminal offence is guilty of attempting to commit the offence regardless of whether or not it was possible to commit an offence. A person who had just entered a backyard to steal a barbecue, but had not started to remove it, could be guilty of attempted theft. The Crown would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had gone beyond mere preparation to commit the offence and had the intent to steal the barbecue. A person punished for an attempted crime is punished more for his or her intent to commit the crime than for the harm caused.

Sometimes activity that is preparatory to completing a crime is defined by Parliament as a completed crime. Section 322(2) of the Criminal Code provides that a person commits theft when, with the intent to steal, he or she moves an item or even begins to cause it to become movable. A person who has cut a chain on a backyard barbecue to make it movable with the intent to steal could be guilty of theft as opposed to attempted theft. Similarly terrorism offences relating to the financing or facilitation of terrorism generally apply to conduct done in preparation to commit an actual act of terrorism.

In addition to attempts, a person could be guilty of conspiracy to commit a theft if he or she had agreed with others to commit the theft. This offence would...

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