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Inchoate Crimes: Arrested for Taking Steps Toward Committing a Criminal Offense

Jun 17, 2024 | Conspiracy, Inchoate Crimes

Did you know that there are many situations in which a person can perform an act that, while it does not complete a particular offense (robbery, assault, murder, etc.), may nevertheless lead to a criminal charge. These are called “inchoate crimes,” and the basic variations are:

  • Attempt;
  • Solicitation; and
  • Conspiracy.

What we’re talking about is an act that falls short of the completion of the crime, but which nevertheless is considered a punishable step toward the crime in question.

Obviously thinking about committing a crime Is not enough. The following are examples of inchoate crimes that may lead to an arrest.


An attempt consists, basically, of taking a substantial step toward the commission of an offense without actually completing the underlying crime. Example: You plan on robbing a store after hours. You approach the store and attempt to gain access, through several of the locked doors, but you are arrested by the police before you can find an accessible point of entry. You may still be charged, for example, with attempted burglary. If you actually complete the crime, the attempt is automatically merged into the substantive charge. That is, you can’t be charged with attempted burglary and burglary based on the same set of facts. If you are charged with attempt, it will be categorized generally as one step lower on the misdemeanor/felony scale than the underlying offense.


Solicitation is defined in A.R.S. 13-1002, which makes it illegal to intentionally promote or encourage another person to commit a misdemeanor or a felony. A typical example would be solicitation of prostitution, where the alleged prostitute offers sex in change for money. If those involved cannot agree on the amount of money to be paid, there can still be an arrest for solicitation. A solicitation charge will generally be classified two levels lower than the offense itself.


A conspiracy can be charged when a person agrees with another person that one or both of them will commit an offense. The law in Arizona requires, as an element of the crime, that one of the parties to the alleged conspiracy commits an “overt act” toward the commission of that offense. Note that unlike attempt and solicitation, which merge into the underlying offense if it is completed, conspiracy may be charged along with the underlying crime.

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