Florida law prohibits the commission of three inchoate crimes: attempt, solicitation, and conspiracy. An inchoate crime is conduct that in itself is not actually harmful, but is nonetheless criminal because it involves seeking or preparing to commit another crime. The crime of solicitation involves seeking out another person to commit a criminal act. If you have been arrested for an inchoate offense in Florida, an experienced defense attorney can help you prepare a defense.Solicitation
In Florida, a person commits the crime of solicitation by commanding, encouraging, hiring, or asking another to commit a crime. The offender must attempt to induce another to commit specific conduct that would either constitute a criminal offense or constitute attempt to commit the offense.
A person may solicit another by persuasion, offering to pay money, commanding or requesting, or advising the other person to commit the criminal act. For example, a person commits the crime of solicitation if he or she hires a hit man to commit a murder, or offers money in exchange for prostitution.
The person being solicited does not have to commit the crime, attempt to commit the crime, or even acknowledge the request for the defendant to be guilty of solicitation. Solicitation is a crime that can be committed with words alone. Additionally, the parties do not have to reach an agreement or decision regarding details such as the time or price for the crime, and can postpone the act.Intent
Solicitation is a specific intent crime, so the offender must intend to solicit a criminal act. The defendant must actually solicit the act, and actually intend that the crime be committed. Discussing the possibility of engaging in criminal behavior is not enough. Nor is reserving the decision as to whether the other person should commit the crime. Furthermore, attempt to solicit is not a crime in Florida. It is not a criminal offense to intend to solicit a crime but never to get around to it, or to intend to solicit but be prevented by outside influences from following through.Penalties
Generally, solicitation is charged as one level below the underlying offense. For example, solicitation to commit a first-degree felony would be charged as a second-degree felony, and solicitation to commit a third-degree felony would be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor.Defenses
The renunciation of criminal purpose is a defense to solicitation. If, after soliciting a crime, the defendant voluntarily persuades the other person not to commit the criminal act, or otherwise prevents the commission of the crime, the defendant cannot be convicted of solicitation. The voluntariness of the renunciation is measured by a defendant’s change of heart, rather than by a fear of being caught.
Impossibility is not a defense to solicitation. If a person solicits another to commit a crime, and the other will not or cannot follow through, solicitation has still been committed. For example, if a defendant solicits someone to deliver illegal drugs, but the person does not have possession of any drugs, the impossibility is no defense.
If you have been charged with an inchoate crime, please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a free consultation.