The crime of attempted murder is committed when a person carries out an act of murder which was not carried out because he was prevented from doing so, not out of his own choice but because of an external source. In NSW, the crime of attempted murder is punishable under the Crimes Act 1900 with a penalty of 25 years of imprisonment.
In order to fully understand the crime of attempted murder we need to first look at murder and its elements. In murder, the victim is another human being who died. These are the first two elements of the crime, the victim being another person and the death of the victim. The third element of murder is that it must be the act of the accused that caused the death of the victim and the fourth element is that such act is unlawful. Finally, the fifth element is the intent to kill.
These elements are applicable to the crime of attempted murder except that the victim does not die. It is still the unlawful act of the accused that was supposed to cause the death of the victim but for reasons which are not of the accused’ own doing, the murder is not carried out. However, the intention to kill is clear from the acts of the accused.
It is with the fourth and fifth elements that an accused can raise doubts in the prosecution’s case thereby making it difficult for them to prove that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of attempted murder. The accused can raise self-defence by proving that it was the victim who attacked accused first and that the latter was merely defending his own self. It could be also that the accused was driven by necessity to protect his own life or that he was under duress when the attack was made.
Finally, another defence is the lack of intent to kill. The accused can allege that it was an accident and thus, can prove that he deserves a lower penalty or a lesser charge.
Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.