Attempted murder is the deliberate and intentional action of attempting to take the life of another, or acting in a manner that is reckless, with extreme disregard for human life, and is likely to result in the death of another.

State Must Prove Intent:

  • The prosecution is required to prove that the accused actually intended to kill another person.
  • If the accused does not provide an actual confession stating that they intended to take the life of another, it is often difficult for the prosecution to prove intent.
  • The requirement for the prosecution to specifically prove what was on the mind of the accused often makes a conviction difficult.

Determining the “Degree” of Attempted Murder:

  • Factors that are involved in assessing the degree of attempted murder include:
  • Whether a weapon was used, and if so,
  • What type of weapon was used
  • Whether or not the act was premeditated, and if so, to what extent
  • Whether there was violence involved in the act
  • The intensity of the violence
  • The circumstances of the act
  • Whether the attempted murder occured during an assault or another crime
  • What type of crime was involved – carjack attempt, burglary, robbery, assault, rape, etc.

Aggravated Attempted Murder

Some jurisdictions charge the offender with aggravated attempted murder. The Maine Revised Statute, Sec. 152-A, Aggravated Attempted Murder, details the offense:

A person is guilty of aggravated attempted murder if that person commits attempted murder and, at the time of the person’s actions, one or more of the following aggravating circumstances is in fact present: 

  • The person’s intent to kill was accompanied by premeditation-in-fact;
  • The person, at the time of the crime, intended to cause multiple deaths;
  • The person was previously convicted …. Of criminal homicide or other crime involving the use of deadly force…
  • The attempted murder was accompanied by torture, sexual assault or other extreme cruelty inflicted upon the victim;
  • The attempted murder was committed in a penal institution by an inmate against another inmate or prison personnel;
  • The attempted murder was committed against a law enforcement officer while in performance of duty;
  • The attempted murder was committed against a hostage

Penalties for Attempted Murder

  • Under the federal sentencing guidelines, attempted murder may be penalized by:
  • Prison: from 2 years, 5 months, to 7 years, 6 months
  • Attempted aggravated murder may be penalized by:
  • Prison: 3 years, 11 months to 10 years
  • Life imprisonment is possible
  • In California, a conviction for first degree attempted murder may result in a life sentence with possibility of parole.
  • In California, if a defendant attempts to kill a police officer who was performing official duties, a conviction will mandate a 15 year minimum sentence.
  • A convicted felon cannot own or possess a firearm in California and most jurisdictions.

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Michael S. Berg
Attorney At Law