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State v. Blechman

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Defendant appeals a conviction of solicitation of arson.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    In New Jersey, a defendant is guilty of solicitation if he counsels, incites, or solicits another to commit either a felony or a misdemeanor and it is not required for the intended crime to have been completed.

    Facts.

    Blechman (Defendant) unsuccessfully tried to persuade another person to set fire to a dwelling house so that Defendant could collect the insurance proceeds from a policy he held on the house. Defendant was charged with, and convicted of, solicitation of arson and he appealed.

    Issue.

    Whether a defendant is guilty of solicitation if he counsels, incites, or solicits another to commit either a felony or a misdemeanor.

    Held.

    Yes. Defendant’s conviction is affirmed. In New Jersey, a defendant is guilty of solicitation if he counsels, incites, or solicits another to commit either a felony or a misdemeanor and it is not required for the intended crime to have been completed.

    Discussion.

    Defendant argues that to be convicted of the crime of solicitation of arson, the intended crime is required to have been completed. New Jersey law prohibits the counseling or solicitation of another to set fire to, or burn any, insured building, ship or vessel, or goods, wares, merchandise or other chattels, with an intent to prejudice or defraud an insurer. At common law, it is a misdemeanor for one to counsel, incite, or solicit another to commit either a felony or a misdemeanor, even if the crime is never committed. It is not required that some act is committed in furtherance of the solicitation and it is not required that the actual crime be completed. In State v. Brand, 69 A. 1092 (N.J.1908), the court construed the statute as denouncing two separate and distinct offenses: (1) the willful or malicious setting fire to or burning of insured property, with intent to prejudice the underwriter, and (2) the aiding, counseling, procuring or consenting to the setting fire to or burning of such property. The crime of solicitation falls short of an attempt to commit the crime solicited, which requires the intent to commit a crime plus an overt act toward the commission of the crime.


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