Why is attempted murder illegal?

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AuthorTopic: Why is attempted murder illegal?
Apprentice
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1. A free and just society is one in which a person is able to live their life however they wish as long as they don't hurt anyone else.

2. We already have laws on the books for murder, manslaughter, and causing damage to other people's property.

3. Victimless crimes are not crimes.

4. Arresting people for "thought crimes" or "pre-crimes" would not exist in a free and just society.

Attempted murder should be legal. If you hurt someone it should be considered assault with a deadly weapon, if you kill someone it should be considered murder, but if no harm is done then there should be no reason you should be arrested and have your life ruined over an attempted murder charge.

Attempted murder is a victimless "crime". These are the facts, and I find the argument for keeping attempted murder illegal to be illogical and based solely on emotional appeals.
Posts: 9 | Registered: Tuesday, November 20 2001 08:00
Infiltrator
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Profile #1
This is an interesting arguement, but I don't have know what to think. In some cases the attempted murderer would regret their actions and would not do such a thing again, but then in other cases they would just try it again as soon as they could. I think the reason that attempted murder victims are thrown in jail for life (or whatever the punishment is) is, just to be safe.

Please note that the previous statement is not my personal opinion on whether attempted murder should be life or not.

Edit: Typo, Grammer

[ Sunday, December 23, 2007 21:51: Message edited by: The Ratt ]

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Posts: 454 | Registered: Monday, August 20 2007 07:00
Shaper
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First off, the closest thing to what you're talking about is Conspiracy, and that still goes a bit further than just thinking of committing a crime. As for Attempted Murder, that requires that the person actually tried to kill somebody.

Attempted murder is not a victimless crime.

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...I'm sorry, what?!

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Posts: 4130 | Registered: Friday, March 26 2004 08:00
Agent
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quote:
Originally written by SGT. POCKY:


3. Victimless crimes are not crimes.

Says who? How are you defining a "victimless crime"?

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Posts: 1169 | Registered: Monday, September 23 2002 07:00
Apprentice
Member # 302
Profile Homepage #5
quote:
Originally written by Andraste:

Says who? How are you defining a "victimless crime"?
If the target isn't killed or injured (perhaps the bullet missed), how can they be a victim? Sure, they could seek punitive damages for mental distress (an absurd notion that I will, at the very least, entertain), but anyway that would be a civil lawsuit, not a criminal trial.
Posts: 9 | Registered: Tuesday, November 20 2001 08:00
Law Bringer
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People are charged and convicted for attempted crimes because there is clear intent to commit a crime (accidental attempts are usually not prosecuted). Second, being incomptent in your actions is no justification for being set free. Stupidy is not a legal defense.

After all how many times have you read about a burglar getting stuck in a chimney or some other means of entrance and getting arrested after being freed.
Posts: 4643 | Registered: Friday, February 10 2006 08:00
Shaper
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EDIT: Whoops. Walked right into that one.

[ Sunday, December 23, 2007 22:30: Message edited by: Nioca ]

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Posts: 2686 | Registered: Friday, September 8 2006 07:00
Shock Trooper
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Let me watch some more Law and Order and then I will answer this question. =P

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Posts: 228 | Registered: Monday, October 21 2002 07:00
...b10010b...
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Hi, Scorp.

Laws exist primarily to protect the community and deter people from committing crimes, not to dish out eye-for-an-eye punishments. In a sense, the actual harm done is irrelevant; putting a murderer in jail won't bring back the dead, after all. What's important is that attempting to kill someone proves that you're a person who's likely to attempt to kill someone, which means society is justified in locking you up for its own protection.

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Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 335
Profile Homepage #10
quote:
Originally written by SGT. POCKY:

1. A free and just society is one in which a person is able to live their life however they wish as long as they don't hurt anyone else.
Yes.

quote:
2. We already have laws on the books for murder, manslaughter, and causing damage to other people's property.
Yes.

quote:
3. Victimless crimes are not crimes.
Yes.

quote:
4. Arresting people for "thought crimes" or "pre-crimes" would not exist in a free and just society.
No. Thought crimes aren't crimes, but actually attempted crimes are crimes legally, and I think they are morally as well. Thinking about something is meaningless outside of your own head. Trying to kill someone and failing falls into a different category entirely.

—Alorael, who in fact doesn't really see why attempted crimes and successfully committed crimes should be punished differently. In everything but the result, the crime is the same. The difference is purely a result of the victim's actions or random chance, or at best the perpetrator's incompetence. And speaking of incompetence, doesn't treating intent and action separately perversely reward failure?
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
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quote:
Originally written by Ninjanaranjato:

And speaking of incompetence, doesn't treating intent and action separately perversely reward failure?
Rewarding failure at murdering somebody probably isn't such a terrible thing.

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Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Law Bringer
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It's the principle of the thing! We live in an alleged meritocracy, and we ought to properly recognize and reward excellence and diligence in all things. Even bad things.

—Alorael, who refuses to accept that awfulness is grounds for censure. Why, if that were the case, where would reality television be?
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
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Randomizer:
quote:

People are charged and convicted for attempted crimes because there is clear intent to commit a crime

But aren't crimes meant to consist of two elements? Actus reus (the guilty act) and mens rea (intent to commit the crime). How does 'attempted murder' satisfy actus reus?

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Posts: 136 | Registered: Wednesday, September 12 2007 07:00
Law Bringer
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quote:
Originally written by SGT. POCKY:

1. A free and just society is one in which a person is able to live their life however they wish as long as they don't hurt anyone else.

2. We already have laws on the books for murder, manslaughter, and causing damage to other people's property.

3. Victimless crimes are not crimes.

4. Arresting people for "thought crimes" or "pre-crimes" would not exist in a free and just society.

Attempted murder should be legal. If you hurt someone it should be considered assault with a deadly weapon, if you kill someone it should be considered murder, but if no harm is done then there should be no reason you should be arrested and have your life ruined over an attempted murder charge.

Attempted murder is a victimless "crime". These are the facts, and I find the argument for keeping attempted murder illegal to be illogical and based solely on emotional appeals.

Driving drunk is a victimless crime unless it kills somebody. You still would want to punish it because it kills rarely enough to be worth the minimal risk of punishment to the average reckless driver, but often enough to be dangerous to bystanders.

Opposing the death penalty doesn't mean I oppose deterring punishment in general. I'm all for locking up unsuccessful murderers, though not as long as successful murderers.

"Thought crime" doesn't enter into it. If you badly want to kill someone, that's fine. Attempted murder is not "badly wanting", it means someone actually went through with the deed and was prevented only by incompetence or chance.

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Posts: 8752 | Registered: Wednesday, May 14 2003 07:00
Lifecrafter
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quote:
Originally written by SGT. POCKY:

1. A free and just society is one in which a person is able to live their life however they wish as long as they don't hurt anyone else.
Attempted murder entails a menace to the victim and to society at large. So it does hurt people.

quote:
2. We already have laws on the books for murder, manslaughter, and causing damage to other people's property.
It wouldn't be fair to try someone for the actual act of murder if they only intended to do it, right?

quote:
3. Victimless crimes are not crimes.
I agree with you so far. On the other hand, attempted murder isn't victimless.

quote:
4. Arresting people for "thought crimes" or "pre-crimes" would not exist in a free and just society.
Mens rea - you may have heard this phrase before. It translates to 'guilty mind', and is a fundamental part of modern justice - and Western justice since time immemorial. 'Thought crime' is only an Orwellism if actually used that way - that is, being uncompliant to an Orwellian society. There are in fact thoughts that are inherently destructive and inappropriate and if followed through with action require response from a just state.

quote:
Attempted murder should be legal. If you hurt someone it should be considered assault with a deadly weapon, if you kill someone it should be considered murder, but if no harm is done then there should be no reason you should be arrested and have your life ruined over an attempted murder charge.
If no harm is done, the plaintiff won't file charges. If the plaintiff is aggrieved enough to file criminal suit, harm has clearly been caused by an attempt on her or his life. But even that is on sketchy territory, because of the social disruption, on which more in a bit.

quote:
Attempted murder is a victimless "crime". These are the facts, and I find the argument for keeping attempted murder illegal to be illogical and based solely on emotional appeals.
Emotion is important. The appeals themselves aren't to emotion, but logically based on the consequences of extreme negative emotion. A simple cost-benefit analysis of physical or property damage is inappropriate in light of the severe trauma attempts on life and limb tend to entail. I mean, by the same logic extortion would be victimless - after all, it only involved the threat of violence, right? I mean, we have laws for theft and we have laws for assault...

Now that's the individual. (And, again: these are logical appeals based on the effects of emotions, not appeals to emotion itself. Trauma is undesirable and should be avoided.) On a social level, two things:

a) The justice system does not exist to behave in a punitive fashion. While that's more or less what our current justice system amounts to, it's not appropriate and when it becomes politically feasible it will require EXTREME reform. The justice system exists for four interacting purposes:

a) Sequestration - keeping someone liable to commit a crime away from the general population. This is the basic function served by everything from drunk tanks to maximum security prisons - to keep dangerous people out of society. Until -
b) Rehabilitation - reducing criminal behavior and producing in an individual who has decided to engage in criminal deviance a meaningful engagement with society. This is what our prisons are worst at, and what they should be best at. All the modern American prison is designed for is violent sodomy, which is awful; the work programs are essentially regimentalized slavery with little rehabilitatory function (unlike chain-gangs, which often performed work that would at least be marginally transferrable to roving work in a rural community, modern prison work is largely stuff that is done by robots outside of the pen). Which is why, when it comes time to justify the massive prison-industrial complex, our politicians talk about
c) Deterrence. This function works well for some crimes, poorly for others, and not at all for most. But people - that is, people outside of sociology and statistics, who should be in charge of these things - believe in it, so a lot of criminal policy is designed around it. This includes three-strike programmes, which put juvenile delinquents in the damned pen for half of their adult life for stealing liquor one time too many. Only a belief in deterrence could produce such a perverse, draconian system - or support for it. Although, in the end, there is some recourse there to
d) Retribution. The dog's penal system. This is what dicks think about when they think about law: fascists, idiots, people living in the 2nd millennium BC. An eye for an eye is an improvement over absolute lex talonis war-of-all-against-all - just ask the Inuit, who have long spates of murderous feuding simmering for centuries instead of open warfare, and having committed murder is considered less shameful than stealing - but not by a whole lot. Retribution hinges on the pretense that somehow justice requires that human beings be deprived of certain things as a natural consequence of wrongdoing; it's contrary to basic modern theory on learning, social function, law, or justice, and appeals to retribution are usually how you get the jackals riled up - often enough, to constitute a lynch mob.

Now, consider those: what you describe, a system in which attempted murder represents an undue imposition for a non-actual crime - even discarding the trauma on the behalf of the victim (and yes, there IS always a victim - if nobody finds out about it, nobody presses charges) - only satisfies D, which supposes that no harm has been done and therefore no 'justice' need be satisfied by bloodying your claws. On the other hand, it's unsettling on the deterrence front - that is, it's letting people who have attempted to end another human being's life off the hook. On the rehabilitation front, it does nothing: someone apprehended and let loose because the victim wasn't actually hurt bad enough to press for assault leaves with the same basic personal flaws that lead them to murderous intent. And as sequestration goes: if someone's going to try and murder you once, what's to stop them doing it again? There's no satisfactory answer to this, and while self-defense is OK and all, it's usually far preferable to have a system in which the state is prepared to provide security and mete out justice of its own accord.

In other words, someone who attempts to commit murder has attempted a grievous enough act that there's something seriously wrong with them, and it's impossible to prove to any satisfaction without further detainment that they won't go out and try to do it again.

Add that to the psychological trauma incurred by someone attempting to off you, and attempted murder is on the books on very solid grounds.

I applaud your initiative in coming up with this, though. (Unless you came to this line of inquiry while claiming that hate crimes were a thought crime - if that's the case, then shame on you; what, minority members don't have it hard enough?)
Posts: 794 | Registered: Tuesday, October 11 2005 07:00
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Another reason, of course, is BHHHHHH
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You have expressed everything I wanted to say better than I could have done. Congratulations.

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Posts: 8752 | Registered: Wednesday, May 14 2003 07:00
Infiltrator
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A phrase out of a criminology textbook that's stuck in my head for a while now.

"A person intends the natural and probably consequences of his/her intended actions".

The example that was used to clarify was of a woman smuggling lace out of France into England. Assume that smuggling French lace into England is illegal. If the woman buys lace in France thinking its French lace, and then smuggles it into England, is she guilty of anything if the lace was actually English lace?

The approach that book took was that the law deals with the intent of actions not just the actual consequences of actions.

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Posts: 564 | Registered: Wednesday, April 14 2004 07:00
Canned
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quote:
1. A free and just society is one in which a person is able to live their life however they wish as long as they don't hurt anyone else.

Freedom comes at a price.

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Posts: 1799 | Registered: Sunday, February 4 2007 08:00
Warrior
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Okay, Pocky, so if I walked into your house with a loaded gun, aimed it at you, shot the gun but *just* missed you, all the while talking about how I intended to end your life, you'd be happy with me just walking back out into society to try again later? I sure as hell wouldn't!

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Posts: 93 | Registered: Tuesday, December 11 2007 08:00
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...speaking hypothetically, of course....

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Posts: 794 | Registered: Thursday, July 27 2006 07:00
Shaper
Member # 73
Profile #22
quote:
Originally written by Najosz Thjsza Kjras:

1) The justice system does not exist to behave in a punitive fashion. While that's more or less what our current justice system amounts to, it's not appropriate and when it becomes politically feasible it will require EXTREME reform. The justice system exists for four interacting purposes:

a) Sequestration - keeping someone liable to commit a crime away from the general population. This is the basic function served by everything from drunk tanks to maximum security prisons - to keep dangerous people out of society. Until -
b) Rehabilitation - reducing criminal behavior and producing in an individual who has decided to engage in criminal deviance a meaningful engagement with society. This is what our prisons are worst at, and what they should be best at. All the modern American prison is designed for is violent sodomy, which is awful; the work programs are essentially regimentalized slavery with little rehabilitatory function (unlike chain-gangs, which often performed work that would at least be marginally transferrable to roving work in a rural community, modern prison work is largely stuff that is done by robots outside of the pen). Which is why, when it comes time to justify the massive prison-industrial complex, our politicians talk about
c) Deterrence. This function works well for some crimes, poorly for others, and not at all for most. But people - that is, people outside of sociology and statistics, who should be in charge of these things - believe in it, so a lot of criminal policy is designed around it. This includes three-strike programmes, which put juvenile delinquents in the damned pen for half of their adult life for stealing liquor one time too many. Only a belief in deterrence could produce such a perverse, draconian system - or support for it. Although, in the end, there is some recourse there to
d) Retribution. The dog's penal system. This is what dicks think about when they think about law: fascists, idiots, people living in the 2nd millennium BC. An eye for an eye is an improvement over absolute lex talonis war-of-all-against-all - just ask the Inuit, who have long spates of murderous feuding simmering for centuries instead of open warfare, and having committed murder is considered less shameful than stealing - but not by a whole lot. Retribution hinges on the pretense that somehow justice requires that human beings be deprived of certain things as a natural consequence of wrongdoing; it's contrary to basic modern theory on learning, social function, law, or justice, and appeals to retribution are usually how you get the jackals riled up - often enough, to constitute a lynch mob.

There's another possible purpose that I can think of: Compensation. If a man steals your computer, perhaps he should give you the computer back. If he cannot (he sold it, etc.), then other compensation (monetary, etc.) may be due. If the computer has data of monetary value, one could argue for compensation for that as well. Problems arise, of course, if the man is broke (sold the computer and bought drugs, which he then consumed, etc.). Compensation is still a purpose worth consideration, at any rate.

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Posts: 2957 | Registered: Thursday, October 4 2001 07:00
...b10010b...
Member # 869
Profile Homepage #23
quote:
Originally written by The Almighty Do-er of Stuff:

Compensation is still a purpose worth consideration, at any rate.
Usually compensation is a matter for civil law rather than criminal law, though.

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Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Lifecrafter
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Profile #24
quote:
Originally written by The Almighty Do-er of Stuff:

Problems arise, of course, if the man is broke (sold the computer and bought drugs, which he then consumed, etc.). Compensation is still a purpose worth consideration, at any rate.
I have a friend that was riding on a 4-wheeler that he thought belonged to one of his buddies some years ago. The police pulled him over and he found out it was stolen. He was given probation that extended until he made monetary compensation for the theft. Although it took him years to pay, he was able to live, work, and contribute to society, instead of being caged and draining more from the community. It would be nice to see more of that kind of justice.
Posts: 701 | Registered: Thursday, November 30 2006 08:00

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