Abandonment and Change of Mind

Gideon Yaffe

in Attempts

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199590667
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595530 | DOI:
Abandonment and Change of Mind

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Defendants sometimes fail to complete their crimes because they abandon their attempts before completion. Jurisdictions vary in their response to this. Some grant an affirmative defense for abandonment, others mitigate sentence, and some take abandonment to be irrelevant. This chapter argues for mitigation on the following grounds: when a defendant has abandoned with laudable motives, a reason that typically supports giving a particular punishment rather than a lesser punishment is canceled: namely, that a lower punishment would not have provided the defendant with sufficient reason to refrain from committing the crime. Defendants who abandoned for laudable reasons already recognized sufficient reason not to complete the crime and so would have done so even in the absence of the prospect of punishment. It is suggested that this argument succeeds only because it is wrong to punish an attempt more heavily than it would have been punished had it been completed.

Keywords: attempt; abandonment; change of mind; punishment; mitigation

Chapter.  12165 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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