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People v. Brown

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Bloomberg Law

Brief Fact Summary.

After a jury trial, in which the Defendant, Brown (Defendant), was found guilty of attempted burglary, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to a term of four years imprisonment. On appeal, the defense argues that the conviction should be reversed because the evidence established that the Defendant voluntarily abandoned his criminal activity and purpose.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Accountability for a charged offense is removed if, before the commission of the offense, the defendant terminates his efforts to promote such commission and makes a proper effort to prevent the commission of the offense.


On the night of September 4, 1979, the Defendant and Randall Schultz (Schultz) were riding in Schultz’ truck when then stopped to pick up another man, Maxwell Babcock (Babcock), who the Defendant had not previously known. Babcock suggested that the group steal a car and subsequently, go out and wreck it. The group went to Hillside Motors and Babcock told the Defendant and Schultz to go to the back of the building and kick in the door. Babcock was then to enter the building and steal vehicle keys and money. After making the plan, the Defendant and Schultz went to the back of the building where the Defendant unsuccessfully tried to kick in the door. Schultz kicked the door one time and it came open. At this point, the Defendant and Schultz became scared and notified Maxwell that they were abandoning the plan. As the group was leaving the parking lot of the service station next to Hillside Motors, the police arrived and stopped them.


Can the Defendant’s conviction of attempted burglary stand where the Defendant abandoned his efforts to commit the planned burglary and made an effort to prevent it from occurring?


The withdrawal provisions of the accountability statute were not applicable to the attempted burglary charge in that the evidence supported a finding that the offense had occurred prior to the time of the Defendant’s withdrawal.


The Defendant’s withdrawal was effective as to the charge of burglary because it occurred prior to the commission of the burglary. However, with respect to the charge of attempted burglary, the withdrawal came too late. The Defendant had already taken a substantial step toward the completion of the attempted burglary by kicking in the door of the premises with Schultz. This was more than mere preparation for the commission of the planned burglary and as such, led to the completion of the attempt.

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