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State v. Latraverse

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Defendant, Latraverse, was charged with knowingly and intentionally attempting to dissuade a police officer from testifying at his trial

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A criminal defendant must take actions that are substantial step toward the commission of a crime in order to be convicted of that crime.

    Facts.

    An undercover police officer, Lombardi, bought 4 stolen cars from Latraverse, and he was subsequently arrested and charged with receiving stolen items. While Latraverse was out on bail, Lombardi was at his home and heard a loud noise outside his home, which sounded like a muffler. When Lombardi went outside he saw a car with a license plate matching ones from Latraverse’s car dealership. Lombardi proceeded to call for backup and when they arrived, Latraverse made a sharp U turn and drove away. The backup units chased after him and when they finally stopped him, a search revealed a can of gasoline, rags, matches, a baseball bat, and letter with threats toward Lombardi. Latraverse was charged with knowingly and intentionally attempting to dissuade a police officer from testifying at his trial. Latraverse argued he had abandoned the crime.

    Issue.

    Whether a criminal defendant must take actions that are substantial step toward the commission of a crime in order to be convicted of that crime.

    Held.

    Yes. A criminal defendant must take actions that are substantial step toward the commission of a crime in order to be convicted of that crime.

    Concurrence.

    None

    Discussion.

    An attempt to commit a crime is defined as taking a substantial step toward the planning of that crime. At common law there were 3 steps that would constitute attempting to commit a crime: (1) an intent to commit the crime, (2) a completion of an act that furthers the intent to commit the crime, (3) failing to actually carry out the crime. Intent and mere preparation are not enough to establish an attempt to commit a crime, but if the police are forced to become involved, courts have said that is enough for an attempt. The Model Penal Code defines attempt as taking a substantial step toward the commission of that crime, which means the defendants actions must support that criminal purpose. While it is true that Latraverse had all the tools necessary to commit his crime, and was at the location where he was to commit the crime, the police never gave him a chance to commit the crime. Thus, it is unclear whether Latraverse ever abandoned his intentions of committing the crime and the case must be remanded to allow Latraverse to present a defense of abandonment.


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