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Conspiracy, Aiding and Abetting, and Attempt Offenses in New Jersey

A conspiracy is considered an inchoate crime. The term “inchoate” means undeveloped, unripened or incomplete. There are other inchoate crimes similar in concept to a conspiracy. They are aiding and abetting, attempts and solicitations. Although solicitation existed as an independent crime at common law it is now subsumed into that section of New Jersey’s Criminal Code (Code) dealing with aiding and abetting. A comparison of the crime of conspiracy with each of these other two inchoate crimes is developed below.

Aiding and Abetting. In aiding and abetting cases, the underlying offense has to be completed and the accused needs to take some substantive step toward the completion of the crime. In a conspiracy case the crime does not have to be completed. An aidor and abettor can be liable as a principal, and so can a conspirator.

Attempt. Like a conspiracy, a conviction for attempt does not require the commission of the underlying crime. Moreover, like a conspiracy, the fact that it may be impossible to commit the crime is no defense. An attempt becomes criminal when it starts approaching the completion of the substantive offense. A conspiracy matures into a crime a lot sooner. The core of a conspiracy is the intent of the actor. The focus of an attempt is the actor’s conduct. Acts in preparation of a crime, even if insignificant, can create conspiracy liability if performed consistent with an illicit agreement. That is not true with attempt. A person can be convicted as an accomplice even if acquitted of a conspiracy charge.

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