Skip to Content

What Are Inchoate Crimes and Are They Serious?

The term “inchoate” is not used often in everyday conversation, but you are undoubtedly familiar with some inchoate crimes: attempted kidnapping, solicitation to commit murder, and conspiracy to commit robbery are examples of inchoate crimes, also known as incomplete crimes. The person wasn’t kidnapped, no one was killed, and the robbery didn’t happen. The target crime may not have been carried out, but someone can be charged with trying to complete the deed.

Depending on the circumstances, the inchoate crime can be a misdemeanor or a serious felony. Either way, a strong defense attorney is needed to protect the rights of the charged.

Three Categories of Inchoate Crimes

As alluded to earlier in this writing, there are three general categories of inchoate crimes: solicitation, conspiracy, and attempt.

Wisconsin law covers these categories in Chapter 939 in the General Provisions of the Criminal Code:

  • Solicitation. With two exceptions, if someone solicits another person to commit a felony with the full intention for the crime to be completed, the soliciting individual will be charged with a Class H felony. The first exception is when the penalty for the target crime is life imprisonment, the person soliciting the crime is guilty of a Class F felony. If the target crime is a Class I felony, then the person soliciting the crime is also guilty of a Class I felony.
  • Conspiracy. Whoever agrees or combines with another person for the purpose of committing a felony crime may be fined or imprisoned or both. Mere planning or agreement, however, is not enough to garner a conspiracy charge. They must take some action toward the criminal objective, although that action itself does not have to be illegal. The sentence would not exceed the maximum for the crime had it been completed. An exception is in cases where the target crime is punishable by life in prison. The conspirator is charged with a Class B felony in these cases.
  • Attempt. Attempt means that the individual tried but failed to complete the crime. Inchoate crimes require the person to take actions in furtherance of the crime. Most attempted felony crimes are punishable by up to one-half of the maximum penalties of the completed crime. Anyone attempting a felony that, if completed, would be sentenced to life imprisonment is guilty of a Class B felony. Anyone attempting a Class I felony is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. Some attempted crimes are punishable to the same extent as the completed crime.

If someone is charged with the completed crime, that person cannot also be charged with attempt or solicitation. Conspiracy, on the other hand, and the target crime can both be charged.

Accessory to a Crime, Aiding & Abetting

Aiding and abetting is just as serious as the crime itself. If you aid and abet your friend to rob a gas station, you will both be charged with the robbery. Aiding and abetting are often used interchangeably, but they have different meanings. Aiding is helping someone in their efforts to commit the crime while abetting is encouraging someone to commit the crime.

An accessory after the fact is a person who – knowing that a crime has been committed – receives, comforts, or assists the offender to hinder or prevent their arrest, trial, or punishment. Punishment can include fines and jail.

Fight Criminal Charges with the Experienced Legal Counsel

At the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella, our sole focus is comprehensive criminal defense. No matter the charge, from a traffic violation to murder, Attorney Cherella gives his clients personalized attention and strategic defense based on the specifics of the case.

If you are arrested or fear you might be, call (414) 882-8382. We offer legal advice and support 24 hours a day. You can also contact us online to schedule a consultation.