Use the links on criminal law to find out
more information about attempts.
Impossibility, Subjective Probability, and Punishment for Attempts
The purpose of this note is to argue that it is crucial, in analyzing the question of punishment for impossible attempts,
to consider the subjective probabilities of the offender--his beliefs as to what methods of committing the crime work.
Obviously, if the offender knows that the method he is using will not work, he will not use it--or, if he does, he is not in fact attempting to commit the crime. The
important case is the one where the court knows that the method is impossible but the offender does not. If the offender is aware of his own ignorance and rationally
allows for it in his decision, then, as we will see, punishing impossible attempts does in fact deter offenses. If, on the other hand, the offender believes that he has
perfect knowledge about what methods work, but is wrong, then punishing impossible attempts serves no function.