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43 Dick. L. Rev. 211 (October 1938 to June 1939)
Criminal Attempts

handle is hein.journals/dlr43 and id is 215 raw text is: Dickinson Law Review
VOLUME XLIII                           JUNE, 1939                         NUMBER 4
in General.-At common law an attempt to commit a crime, common law or
statutory, is itself a crime. An attempt is an act done in furtherance of a design
to commit a crime, which falls short of the complete accomplishment thereof, but
which causes a sufficient social harm to be deemed criminal.'
A Substantive Crime.-It is generally considered that those who attempt to
commit a crime but fail should be punished.2 This could be accomplished by
recognizing a discretionary power in the courts to extend the limits of the laws
creating substantive crimes to include certain acts which failed to achieve the pro-
hibited results. Under this theory the courts would have the power to extend the
limits of any law defining a crime to cover acts done in pursuance of an intent to
commit the crime and which fell short thereof, but which in their tendencies were
within the policies of the prohibition or which were sufficiently serious to deserve
punishment. Whether this power should be exercised in a particular case would
be determined by the character of the crime attempted and the act done, without
reference to other acts done with intent to commit other crimes.3
*Being Section IV of Chapter IX of a projected book, 'The Law of Crimes, by W. H.
Hitchler., shortly to be published. All rights reserved by the author.
**11.L., University of Virginia Law School, 1905; D.C.L., Dickinson College, 1932; LL.D.,
St. Francis College, 1932; Professor Dickinson School of Law, 1906-; Dean of Dickinson School
of Law, 1930-; Chairman, Pennsylvania State Liquor Control Board, 1939-.
IFor other definitions, see P. v. Young, 122 Mich. 292, 81 N. W. 114; 72 L. R. A. 110;
Graham v. P., 181 I1. 447, 55 N. E. 159, 42 L. R. A. 751; S. v. Gunderson, 42 N. D. 498, 173
N. W. -91. Statutes sometimes define an attempt as an act done with intent to commit a crime
and tending, but failing, to effect itr commission. P. v. Gardner, 144 N. Y. 119, 38 N. E. 1003;
S. v. Dumas, 118 Minn. 77, 136 N. W. 311, 41 L. R. A. (N. S.) 439. See also Criminal At-
tempts, 40 Yale L. J. 53, 61. For a history of criminal attempts, see Criminal Attempts, 41
Harvard L. R. 821; Criminal and Non-Criminal Attempts, 19 Georgetown L. J. 185.
2See Garofalo, Criminology, p. 308; Farde, Penal Philosophy, p. 470; Ferri, Criminal Sociol.
ogy, p. 520; Glueck, Principles of a Rational Criminal Code, 41 Harvard L. R. 480.
3Arnold, Criminal Attempts, 40 Yale L. J. 53. This view has been criticized. Curran,
Criminal and Non-Criminal Attempts, 19 Georgetown L. J. 185, 316; Skilton, The Mental
Element in Criminal Attempt, 3 Pittsburgh L. R. 181. It would be in accord with the early com-
mon law as to attempts. Criminal Attempts, 41 Harvard L. R. 821.

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