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People v. Orndorff

Citation. 261 Cal. App. 2d 212,67 Cal. Rptr. 824, 1968 Cal. App.
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Brief Fact Summary.

Defendant was convicted of attempted grand theft. Defendant alleges that he abandoned the scheme to commit theft and that his actions never went beyond mere preparation.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The failure of the crime must be by extraneous circumstances and not the Defendant’s own actions to make the actions by Defendant constitute an attempt.


Defendant was charged with attempted grand theft. The state alleged that Defendant along with another individual attempted grand theft by using a well known “Jamaican Switch.” The scheme involving deceiving the victim into withdrawing money from his own bank account and then taking the money without the victim’s knowledge. The trial court convicted Defendant. Defendant appealed claiming that his actions constituted mere preparation and was not far enough to constitute an attempt. Defendant bases this assertion on the fact that he detached himself from the scheme prior to completion.


Whether Defendant act of abandoning the theft was insufficient to constitute the crime of attempted grand theft.


Reversed, there were too many steps left to accomplish for the accomplished actions to constitute an attempt to commit grand theft.
The element that makes the crime fail must be by extraneous circumstances and not Defendant’s own actions.


The Court found that Defendant had only done two acts in furtherance of the crime of grand theft; the victim had gone to his bank and gotten his bank book. At this point, Defendant abandoned the scheme and disappeared. The Court ruled that because several more steps and actions had to be accomplished before this could be considered an attempt.

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