Criminal Law


In most jurisdictions, assault comprises both attempted battery and threats of battery.


Attempt liability is the most common form of inchoate liability.

A criminal attempt occurs when a person, with the intent to commit an offense, performs any act that constitutes a substantial step toward the commission of that offense.

A defendant must intend both his conduct and to bring about the crime.

In most jurisdictions, one cannot attempt crimes of recklessness since they do not involve a defendant intending to cause the resulting harm in the first place.


Impossibility is a common defense to attempt crimes. It is divided into factual impossibility and legal impossibility.

Factual Impossibility

Factual impossibility occurs when the defendant's objective is illegal but, unbeknownst to him, impossible to accomplish under the circumstances.

e.g., pointing a gun at someone and pulling the trigger, but the gun jams

Factual impossibility is rarely a valid defense.


Abandonment is a defense to attempt crimes if, after reaching the threshold for the attempt crime, the defendant voluntarily abandons his crime.

Abandonment is not a defense if it occurs as a result of victim resistance or police detection.

For a threat to constitute assault, it must place the victim in a reasonable apprehension of immediate bodily harm. Usually this requires purposely or knowingly causing the apprehension.