When a person has been charged with a crime, his or her defense attorney may explain the possibility of entering into a plea negotiation instead of a criminal trial. During a plea negotiation, one potential outcome is that the defendant will plead guilty, but to a lesser charge with less-severe penalties than the initial charge. At times this lesser charge will involve the following terms: attempt, solicitation and conspiracy. What do these terms mean in the Washington State criminal justice system?
According to RCW 9A.28.020, criminal attempt is defined as taking a "substantial step" towards the commission of a crime. Not surprisingly, it can be difficult to define what exactly a substantial step is, according to the courts. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can explain how the justice system defines such a step and how a defendant's particular situation relates to that definition.
According to RCW 9A.28.030, solicitation to commit a crime involves the defendant's giving money, or other similar valuable items, to another person in order to engage in criminal conduct. Per RCW 9A.28.040, criminal conspiracy occurs when the defendant has agreed to engage in criminal conduct with another person, and one or both -- or more, if there are more than two people involved -- take a substantial step towards actually carrying out the offense.
Many times, an offense that is attempted, solicited or part of a conspiracy is ultimately a lesser charge than the initial criminal charge. However, it is not easy to simply convince the court to agree to a lesser charge, especially after serious allegations. Composing a solid and strategic criminal defense is part of the process, and can be initiated by a Spokane legal professional.
Source: Washington State Legislature, "Anticipatory Offenses," accessed Dec. 26, 2016