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People v. Rizzo

Scott Caron

ProfessorScott Caron

CaseCast "What you need to know"

CaseCast –  "What you need to know"

People v. Rizzo

Citation. 246 N.Y. 334, 158 N.E. 888 (1927)
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Brief Fact Summary.

Defendant was convicted of attempted robbery. However, at the time he was arrested, he never found the targeted individual he wanted to rob.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Only the acts so near the accomplishment of a crime that in all reasonable probability the crime itself would have been committed but for timely interference.


Defendant and three others planned to rob an individual of a payroll he was carrying. Defendant and the others started out in a car looking for the man carrying the payroll they wanted to take. As Defendant and his cohorts searched for this man, they were followed by the police and later arrested as they ran into a building. The individual they wanted to rob was not present at the time of the arrest.


Whether the actions of Defendant constitute the crime of attempted robbery.


The conviction must be reversed and a new trial granted.
For the crime of attempt, the law will consider those acts only as tending to the commission of the crime, which are so near to its accomplishment that in all reasonable probability the crime itself would have been committed but for timely interference.

Here, Defendant had planned to commit a crime and was looking for an opportunity to commit it, but the opportunity never came.


The Court started with a discussion focused on the statutory definition of an attempt, which stated “An act, done with intent to commit a crime, and tending but failing to effect its commission.” The key word was “tending” and the court took this to mean the exertion of energy in a particular direction, but not remote from the commission of the crime. The acts that can legally constitute an attempt must actually come or advance very near the accomplishment of the intended crime. In Defendant’s case, the Court noted that he never found his intended victim, that there was no way in his present situation to actually commit the robbery.

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