Jackson, Allen, Scott and
Hodges planned to rob a bank. They drove up to the bank with guns and
masks in the car, but decided it was too crowded and that they would try
again in a few days.
In the meantime, Hodges was
arrested on unrelated charges, and offered to give evidence against the
The police staked out the
bank, and a few days later, the conspirators drove up to the bank, and sat
around not doing anything. They noticed the police stake out. The police
jumped out and arrested them.
Again, the groups had guns
and masks in the car.
The Trial Court found the
group guilty of conspiracy and attempted
robbery. They appealed the attempted
They were actually found
guilty of attempted robbery for
the first try, and again for the second try.
The Trial Court found that
in order to be found guilty of attempt, the defendant must:
Be acting with the kind of
culpability otherwise required for commission of the crime.
Be engaged in conduct which
constitutes a substantial step
towards commission of the crime.
The Appellate Court upheld the
The Appellate Court looked
to the Model Penal Code §5.01 and
found that both "reconnoitering the place contemplated for the
crime," and "possession of paraphernalia to be employed in the
commission of the crime," were sufficient as a matter of law to
constitute a substantial step in the commission of the
The group unsuccessfully
argued that they had not taken that final step of actually robbing the
bank. Therefore they had abandoned
their intent to commit the crime.
Under the common-law, a
person wasn't guilty of attempt
unless the defendant's acts were in dangerous proximity to the actual crime. However, the Court
found that the Model Penal Code'ssubstantial step doctrine had overturned the common-law
Dangerous proximity is based on the idea of locus
penitentiae (aka 'an opportunity to
repent'). Courts are reluctant to move the threshold of criminality to
an earlier point because there is a desire to preserve the defendant's
opportunity to change their mind and not commit the crime.