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Understanding Kentucky’s criminal attempt law

On Behalf of | Sep 4, 2018 | Criminal Defense

To most in Richmond, defining criminal activity is likely relatively simple: you either committed a crime, or you did not. Why, then, do some come to us here at Shumate, Flaherty, Eubanks & Baechtold facing criminal charges for circumstances in which no crime was actually committed? Kentucky law allows officials to charge you with a crime it is believed you were going to commit one. In such a case, the determination of your guilt or innocence comes down to a question of intent. 

The details of the state’s criminal attempt law can be found in Section 506.010 of Kentucky’s Revised Statutes. Here, it says that if you engage in conduct under circumstances which would lead you to believe that you were indeed acting unlawfully, you have committed criminal attempt. The same is true if you act (or omit to act) in a way that constitutes a substantial step towards your perceived goal of committing a crime. For the law to apply in this scenario, a “substantial step” is defined as any conduct that would leave no reasonable doubt as to your intention of engaging in criminal activity. 

How is it that someone can identify your intent? The only way to prove it empirically would be through your actions. As is mentioned here, those actions must show your culpability “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Per Kentucky’s Rules of Criminal Procedure, the state does not attempt to define “reasonable doubt.” It does say, however, that anyone left with a reasonable doubt based off an evaluation of evidence alone should not find you guilty of what you have been accused of. 

On the flip side, your conduct while facing criminal attempt charges may serve as solid proof of your intent (or lack thereof). More information on answering criminal charges can be found here on our site.