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Experienced Attorneys Defending Individuals Charged With Attempted Murder in Connecticut
At Duffy Law, our Connecticut attempted murder lawyers provide proactive, zealous and effective legal representation to clients. On what could be the worst day of your life, you need an experienced attorney by your side. If you or your loved one was arrested for attempted murder in Connecticut, we are here to protect your legal rights. To arrange a fully confidential review of your case, please call our New Haven office at (203) 946-2000.
Understanding Criminal Attempt Charges in Connecticut
Connecticut has specific laws in place to deal with attempted crimes, including very serious attempted offenses including murder. Under Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-49, a person is guilty of criminal attempt if they acted with the mental state required to commit the attempted crime and they:
- Purposefully engaged in conduct that would have constituted a criminal act if the circumstances had been as the defendant believed them to be; or
- Took a substantial step towards carrying out a criminal act.
In other words, a defendant in Connecticut could potentially be charged with attempted murder if they tried to murder another party, but, for some reason, they were thwarted in doing so by law enforcement or another outside factor. For example, if someone intended to shoot and kill their neighbor, but were actually shooting at a mannequin they thought was their neighbor, that person could be charged with attempted murder.
Defining a ‘Substantial Step’
In an attempted murder case, Connecticut prosecutors are required to prove that the defendant took a “substantial step” towards actually committing the crime. Indeed, this is often the key element that is in dispute in many attempted murder cases. To be considered a substantial step for the purposes of Connecticut law, there must be an action and the action in question must be strongly corroborative of the accused party’s criminal intent and purpose. Some examples of what actions constitute a “substantial step” under the law include:
- Lying in wait for the victim, actively searching for the victim or luring the victim to a location in order to commit the crime at that location;
- Reconnaissance of an intended crime location or illegally entering a structure or vehicle where one intends to commit the crime;
- Possession of materials that have no legitimate use under the circumstances (for example, possessing a lethal poison); or
- Soliciting an innocent person to commit some portion of the crime (for example, using another to lure a victim outside his home)
As an example, an individual threatening to kill another party after a heated argument is not guilty of attempted murder in Connecticut. Though a threat made in the heat of the moment could certainly be a criminal act in and of itself, it is not felony attempted murder—at least not without further evidence that a substantial step was taken to actually carry out the act. However, if after making such a threat, the individual in question then entered the other party’s house with a firearm, that may constitute a substantial step that is sufficient to justify an attempted murder charge.
The bottom line: Attempted murder—like other attempted crimes—has two critically important required legal elements. Prosecutors must prove that the defendant had the criminal intent to commit a specific crime and that the defendant took an active and substantial step towards carrying out the crime.
Criminal Attempt Can Be Charged as if the Crime was Completed
One of the most important things to know about Connecticut’s criminal attempt statute is that it allows prosecutors to charge a defendant with the same grade and same degree of offense that they would have been charged with had they successfully completed the crime. In effect, this means that an attempted murder charge can result in a lengthy prison sentence, potentially even life in prison.
For reference, murder is a Class A felony offense in Connecticut. It is punishable by up to 60 years in prison. A defendant charged with attempted murder can also be charged with this Class A felony. They are not necessarily spared punishment because they failed to complete the crime. The specific penalties, of course, will always depend on the specific facts of the case.
Notably, when special circumstances are present, then a murder charge (or attempted murder charge) in Connecticut is punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. One such special circumstance is that the homicide was committed during the commission of another felony – for example, if someone robs a bank and attempts to shoot a guard while fleeing. An attempted murder under these circumstances could be subject to the same degree of criminal penalties as if the murder had been successful.
The Abandonment Defense to Attempted Murder
An individual facing an attempted murder charge has the right to raise an abandonment defense. Indeed, the Connecticut statutes expressly state that an actor who would otherwise be guilty of a criminal attempt can raise a successful abandonment defense if they can prove a complete and fully voluntary renunciation of the underlying criminal purpose.
An abandonment defense is a challenging one, especially in an attempted murder case. One major issue is that proving the abandonment on one specific occasion is not necessarily sufficient to escape the charge. If the criminal plans are simply deemed to be “postponed”, an abandonment defense will not be permitted.
Further, if the criminal attempt was abandoned for non-voluntary reasons, such as resistance by the intended victim or detection of the planned crime by law enforcement, then the defense cannot be successfully raised. If you or your loved one is facing an attempted murder charge in Connecticut and you are considering raising an abandonment defense, it is imperative that you reach out to an experienced New Haven homicide defense lawyer right away.
Self-Defense in an Attempted Murder
Self-defense or defense of others may also be a defense to an attempted murder charge. A self-defense case must be raised and presented by the defense and supported by some evidence. If so presented, the prosecution can overcome the assertion of self-defense by disproving self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. Self-defense requires a showing that the defendant had a genuine and reasonable fear that the defendant or another was in immediate danger of death or serious bodily injury when the defendant attempted to kill the aggressor. Self-defense is a highly fact specific scenario and may not be available in an attempted murder charge if the prosecution can show the threat was not immediate or that the defendant’s belief in the danger was not reasonable or even non-existent.
Why Trust the Criminal Defense Attorneys Duffy Law
Being charged with attempted murder is frightening. When facing such a serious and potentially life-altering criminal charge, you need a seasoned criminal defense attorney. At Duffy Law, our law firm provides diligent, comprehensive legal representation to clients. Everyone deserves their day in court. We approach every case with the mindset that we are ready to go to trial to defend your rights.
Our New Haven attempted murder defense lawyers provide attentive, personalized legal guidance. We put in the time and energy to understand your case, investigate the allegations, and build a sensible defense strategy. Through all steps of the legal process, our attorneys communicate closely with clients—making sure that they fully understand the consequences and implications of every action or decision.
Speak to Our Connecticut Attempted Murder Attorneys Today
At Duffy Law, our attempted murder attorneys in Connecticut are experienced advocates for the accused. We represent individuals facing attempted murder charges. If you or your family member was arrested for attempted murder or any related offense, please contact our law firm at (203) 946-2000 to schedule a confidential case consultation. From our law office in New Haven, we serve communities throughout the region, including in Hartford, Bridgeport, Stamford, Waterbury and New London.
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