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People v. Harris

Citation. 72 Ill. 2d 16,377 N.E.2d 28, 1978 Ill.17 Ill. Dec. 838
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Brief Fact Summary.

Defendant and Victim were dating and got into a heated argument where Defendant brandished a gun and shot at Victim’s car while she was driving. Defendant was charged with attempted murder and aggravated kidnapping.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Attempted murder is a specific intent crime that requires the intent to bring about the result of the crime attempted.


Defendant was dating Victim. One evening while in a car, they got into an argument in which Defendant, who was driving, reached down and picked up a gun. He made several remarks that Victim interpreted as threats. Victim got out of the car and injured herself, Defendant did not pursue her but did get out of the car. Victim returned to the car and drove off, at which point, Defendant shot at the car and shattered a window. The jury found Defendant guilty of attempted murder, but not of kidnapping. Defendant appealed claiming that improper jury instructions were given.


Whether the result must be intended by Defendant to sustain a conviction of attempted murder.


Reversed and remanded and the jury must be given new instructions.
A jury instruction must make it clear that to convict for attempted murder, there must be a criminal intent to kill shown. Attempted murder requires the intent to bring about the result described by the crime of murder, the death of another.

Attempted murder is a specific intent crime, and requires the intent to commit a specific offense.


The jury instructions given to Defendant’s jury allowed for the jury to convict if they found that Defendant intended to commit serious bodily harm. Although for the crime of murder the intent to do serious bodily harm is sufficient, it is insufficient for the crime of attempted murder. The Court ruled that the actor must have the intent to bring about the result of the attempted crime. If he had merely desired to do serious bodily harm, it would not be attempted murder.

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