Specific Intent to Commit a Crime Case Law In California

To be guilty of an attempt, a defendant harboring the required specific intent must commit a direct but ineffectual act toward commission of the target crime. (People v. Ross, supra, 205 Cal. App. 3d at p. 1554.) The act need not be an element of the offense, but only constitute an immediate step in the execution of the criminal design. (Ibid.) No bright line distinguishes mere preparatory acts from commencement of the criminal design. The courts have recognized that the more clearly the intent to commit the offense is shown, the less proximate the acts need be to consummation of the crime. ( People v. Berger (1955) 131 Cal. App. 2d 127, 130 [280 P.2d 136]; People v. Fiegelman (1939) 33 Cal. App. 2d 100, 105 [91 P.2d 156].) "The plainer the intent to commit the offense, the more likely that steps in the early stages of the commission of the crime will satisfy the overt act requirement." ( People v. Dillon (1983) 34 Cal. 3d 441, 455 [194 Cal. Rptr. 390, 668 P.2d 697].) A defendant is guilty of an attempt if the evidence shows he had the specific intent to commit the substantive offense and under the circumstances as he believed them to be took actions to consummate the substantive offense, even though circumstances unknown to him made completion of the substantive offense impossible. (People v. Thompson, supra, 12 Cal. App. 4th at p. 203.) Therefore, a motion to dismiss the information should be denied if the evidence at the preliminary hearing would support a finding the defendant had the requisite specific intent and took actions to commit the substantive offense. (Lupo v. Superior Court (1973) 34 Cal. App. 3d 657, 663 [110 Cal. Rptr. 185].)