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Attempt Crimes Defense, Penalties, & Sentence

Penal Code 664

The law on the crime of attempt is found at California penal code section 664. To prove that the defendant is guilty of an attempt type crime the prosecutor must prove that the defendant took a substantial step towards the commission of a crime with the intent that the crime actually be completed.

In other words, the defendant must have physically tried to commit a crime while he or she actually intended to commit the crime that he or she was physically trying to commit. 

For example: If a defendant stabs another person with the intent that the other person actually die, but the other person does not actually die, the defendant should be charged with attempted murder under PC 664/187.

However, if a defendant stabs another person with the intent to only injure the other person, and the other person does not die, the defendant should not be charged with attempted murder under PC 664/187 because the defendant did not have the intent to kill the other person (he only had the intent to injure the other person).

Attempt charges are always filed with the penal code number for attempt (PC 664) followed by the penal code number for the target crime. For example, the crime of receipt of stolen property is found at PC 496(A), therefore, the crime of attempted receipt of stolen property will be charged as PC 664/496(A).

If a person is found guilty of an attempt crime under PC 664 the defendant will face up to half the time of the target offense.

For example: If a person is convicted of attempt to commit criminal threats (charged as PC 664/422), a charge that subjects the defendant to a possible three years in prison, the defendant may only face up to eighteen months in prison because eighteen months if half of three years.

This "half" equation is applied to all criminal charges except murder charges. For attempted murder charges under PC 664/187 please see information on Murder.

Attempt crimes can be classified as either misdemeanors or felonies depending on what the defendant was attempting to commit.

For example, the crime of attempted robbery charged under PC 664/211 (Robbery is found at penal code 211), is classified as a felony because the underlying crime of robbery is classified as felony.

However, the crime of attempted hit and run charged under VC 664/20002(A) (hit and run is found at VC 20002(A)), is classified as a misdemeanor because the underlying crime of hit and run classified as a misdemeanor.

This is also true for the classification of Three Strike crimes and non-Three Strike crimes. For example, the crime of perjury (charged under PC 118) is a non-strike felony crime, therefore, the crime of attempted perjury charged under PC 664/118 is also a non-strike offense.

Common defenses to attempt charges include the argument that the defendant did not have the specific intent to carry out the target crime, insanity, intoxication, self-defense, claim of right, and more. In addition, it can sometimes be difficult to prove that the defendant intended to commit a target offense without evidence of preparation. For example, consider how difficult it can be sometimes for prosecutors to prove that a defendant intended to commit robbery without actually having evidence of the robbery itself (it would almost always require a confession by the defendant or a conspirator to the prospective robbery). 

To learn more about California attempt laws and PC 664, contact criminal defense attorney Christopher Dorado today for a free consultation.

Criminal defense attorney Christopher Dorado is an experienced criminal trial lawyer who dedicates his law practice to California criminal law and procedure. He has successfully defended against hundreds of attempt crimes charged under PC 664. Consultations are provided at no cost to the accused and our office is available for consultations 24hr/7days.


Most common attempt charges:

  • Attempt burglary PC 664/459
  • Attempt Residential Burglary PC 664/459
  • Attempt Robbery PC 664/211
  • Attempt Kidnapping PC 664/207
  • Attempt Rape PC 664/261
  • Attempt Arson PC 664/451
  • Attempt Theft PC 664/484
  • Attempt Vehicle Theft VC 664/10851(A)
  • Attempt Kidnapping PC 664/207

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Attempt Crimes: PC 664

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California Attempt Crimes: PC 664

  • Accessory
  • Arson
  • Assault
  • Attempt Crimes
  • Battery
  • Burglary
  • Conspiracy
  • Criminal Threats
  • Domestic Violence
  • Drunk in Public
  • DUI
  • Elder Theft
  • Evading
  • Forgery
  • Hit & Run
  • Identity Theft
  • Kidnapping
  • Lewd Acts
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder
  • Perjury
  • Rape
  • Robbery
  • Shoplifting
  • Stalking
  • Vandalism
  • Vehicle Theft
  • Welfare Fraud

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Penal Code 664 California Attempt Crimes Law & Defense


Law Office of Christopher Dorado 1030 Nevada Street. Suite 105 Redlands, CA. 92374