Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Arrested for Attempting to Commit a Crime in Massachusetts?

The FBI arrested a man in Lexington after he responded to a fake ad and attempted to pay for sex with two minor girls. The man was previously convicted of indecent assault and battery of a child. 

FBI agents operating a sting outside of Boston caught the man by posting fake ads to an overseas website established for people seeking to have sex with minors.

The man was told to meet the girls at a hotel, where undercover FBI workers were waiting. After the money was exchanged between the man and the FBI agents, the man was arrested and placed in the custody of law enforcement. 

The man was later arraigned on a charge of attempted sex trafficking.

The Elements of Attempt

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 274 Section 6 acknowledges that attempting to commit a crime is a criminal offense. To convict someone of this offense, the prosecution must establish that several elements exist beyond a reasonable doubt, including:

  • Specific intent. The person charged with attempt must have taken a step toward committing the crime. To prove this element, the prosecution must establish that the person being charged committed an overt act that was part of the crime’s execution and that the person charged came reasonably close to the commission of the crime.
  • Overt act. An overt act represents a physical action. Plans or other remote actions do not represent overt acts. First steps where the person charged can change their mind also do not represent overt acts. An overt act involves a step toward the commission of the offense. An overt act must be the type of action that a reasonable individual expects will set off the events that would naturally lead to the crime’s commission.
  • Not completed. The act must have failed or been prevented. This means that the crime anticipated was not completed.

The Punishments for Attempting a Crime

The potential penalties for attempting to commit a criminal offense vary greatly based on what crime was involved. A person who is convicted of attempting to commit a crime that can be punished by death can result in a person facing many years in prison. A person can also end up facing other substantial penalties, including fines if that individual attempts to commit a crime that is punished that way.

The Defense of Legal Impossibility

A person who attempts to commit an act that, if completed, does not constitute a crime is not viewed as having committed a criminal offense. For example, if a person believes that committing or attempting an act was a crime but under Massachusetts law, it was not a crime, the individual can be convicted of criminal attempt.

Obtain the Assistance of a Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer

Even a charge related to a sex offense in Massachusetts can result in severe penalties. If you or your loved one needs the assistance of a skilled criminal defense lawyer, do not hesitate to contact Attorney Edward R Molari today for assistance.