What happens if you try to convince someone to do something illegal, even in jest, and they actually do it? You can find yourself on the wrong end of a criminal solicitation charge. These kinds of charges come as a shock to people, since those individuals involved often fail to see how they committed a criminal act.
The Crime of Convincing Someone to Commit a Crime
Criminal solicitation is an inchoate crime. It's also sometimes called an incomplete crime. The key word here is "crime." Even if you don't commit the act, it's still considered criminal activity. With criminal solicitation, two elements must be present.
- Specific intent
An obvious example of criminal solicitation is prostitution. In prostitution, money represents inducement, and sex represents the specific intent. Solicitation isn't limited to things like prostitution, however. Just about any crime can have a solicitation element to it.
Whether it Happens or Not
For example, you dare a friend to trip somebody walking down the street. You don't really think your friend will do it, but you continue to cajole him. You offer to buy the first round if he does it.
To your absolute surprise, your friend does it. He trips a stranger, and that stranger receives a severe injury when they fall. There's a witness, authorities are called, your friend is in trouble.
Depending on how it all plays out, you too may find yourself in trouble. If your friend presents the case to the judge strictly as it happened, you can face a solicitation charge. You can argue it was just talk, but it may still turn into a criminal solicitation case.
What if your friend didn't trip the stranger? What if the stranger still overheard the conversation where you basically offered alcohol to someone for the sole purpose of hurting them? That stranger can alert an officer, and it's possible for that officer to arrest you.
Just making the suggestion and the offer are what makes this a crime. Not understanding that is how many people can find themselves in trouble.
Different Degrees of Criminal Solicitation
How courts deal with criminal solicitation varies from place to place. In fact, those variances can make all the difference. Keep in mind that a charge against you requires proof. That proof must show that you fully intended for the crime to take place, whether it does or doesn't. The intended crime also matters.
Trying to persuade a friend to trip someone for a beer and trying to convince someone to commit murder for money are two different extremes. The suggestion of murder will receive far more scrutiny.
If you're facing a criminal solicitation charge, you need a criminal defense lawyer like Spaulding & Kitzler, LLC. There are many defenses for criminal solicitation. Only a qualified lawyer will know which to use on your behalf. Don't put your freedom on the line.