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Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers > Blog > Criminal Defense > How “Criminal Attempt” Charges Work in Georgia

How “Criminal Attempt” Charges Work in Georgia


Can you be charged with a crime that was never carried out or completed? Absolutely. Georgia law refers to this as “criminal attempt.” Essentially, criminal attempt occurs when a person “performs any act which constitutes a substantial step toward” the commission of a crime.

The state must prove three elements to convict a person of criminal attempt:

  1. The defendant formed the intent to commit the crime.
  2. The defendant performed at least one over act towards the commission of the intended crime.
  3. The defendant failed to consummate the intended crime.

Criminal attempt should not be confused with criminal conspiracy. The latter refers to a crime where two or more persons agree to commit a crime and at least one of them performs an overt act to carry out said crime. Criminal attempt does not require the presence of another person or co-conspirator.

Georgia Woman Sentences for Attempt to Commit Child Molestation

Criminal attempt charges are often brought in cases involving alleged sex crimes involving minors. For example, the Georgia Court of Appeals recently upheld the conviction of a woman charged with criminal attempt to commit child molestation. In this case, Stinson v. State, local law enforcement conducted an “undercover operation to identify and arrest online sexual predators,” according to court records.

To that end, a police sergeant posed as a 14-year-old girl online named “Brittney.” A user–the defendant in this case–initiated contact. According to prosecutors, the defendant provided “Brittney” with a cell phone number and started text messaging her directly. The defendant then made arrangements on behalf of herself and her boyfriend to pick up “Brittney” and drive to Tennessee.

When the defendant and her boyfriend arrived at the prearranged pickup location, the police arrested them. The defendant chose to waive her right to remain silent and admitted that she thought she had been texting a 14-year-old girl and that her interest “was sexual.”

A grand jury subsequently indicted the defendant for criminal attempt to commit child molestation and two other charges. Before the trial court, the defendant moved to suppress the statements she made to the police while in custody. The judge denied the motion. The court did dismiss the two other charges against the defendant but allowed the jury to try the criminal attempt charge. The jury found the defendant guilty on that charge and she received a sentence of 3 years in prison followed by 7 years probation.

The Court of Appeals upheld the defendant’s conviction. Before the appellate court, the defendant argued the state failed to allege the “substantial step” necessary to support a criminal attempt conviction. The Court of Appeals disagreed. The fact the defendant drove to the meetup spot with the intent of picking up “Brittney” and engaging in sexual relations with someone the defendant believed to be underage was itself a “substantial step.”

Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers Today

Anytime you are detained by the police on suspicion of a crime, it is best to remain silent and say nothing until you have spoken to an experienced Atlanta sex crimes lawyer. Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Georgia including Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs.



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