Mere Preparation to Commit a Crime - Example Case

In People v. Miller (1935) 2 Cal.2d 527, the defendant had threatened to kill the victim, and walked toward him with a rifle, stopped some 200 yards away and appeared to load the rifle but did not lift it as though taking aim. The victim fled and the defendant was disarmed without incident. (2 Cal.2d at p. 529.) The issue presented on appeal was not whether there was sufficient evidence the defendant had the specific intent to commit murder, but whether there was sufficient evidence of a direct but ineffectual act done towards its commission. (Id. at pp. 529-530.) The defendant's act of walking toward the victim with a rifle was "mere preparation," as distinguished from an act in commencement of an attempt to kill, and thus did not constitute an attempt to commit murder. (Id. at pp. 531-532 .)