Brief Fact Summary. The Defendant, Miller (Defendant), threatened to kill Albert Jeans (Jeans). Jeans was working in a field when the defendant showed up with a .22 caliber rifle. The Defendant never raised the rifle and surrendered the gun without resistance when confronted.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Where the defendant’s actions are equivocal, the defendant cannot be guilty of attempt.
Whenever the design of a person to commit a crime is clearly shown, slight acts done in furtherance of that design will constitute an attempt.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Do the Defendant’s actions constitute attempted murder?
Held. No. If a person clearly shows the intent to commit a crime, slight acts done in furtherance of the criminal design will constitute an attempt. In other words, a person is not guilty of attempt so long as his actions are equivocal. In the present case, no one could say with certainty that the Defendant went to Ginochio’s field, where Jeans was working, with the intent to kill Jeans. It is possible, based on the defendant’s actions, that he was merely going to demand that Ginochio arrest Jeans. The Defendant never fired a shot and readily surrendered the gun to Ginochio. The defendant’s actions do not constitute an attempt to commit murder.
Discussion. Where the defendant’s true intent is unknown and cannot be definitively inferred, he cannot be guilty of attempt.