I. DEFINITION OF CRIME
Stages in Commission of Crime
According to Oxford English Dictionary crime is “an act punishable by law as forbidden by statute or injurious to public welfare”.
According to Blackstone crime is “an act done in violation of public rights & duties”.
II. ELEMENTS OF CRIME
The chief elements necessary to constitute a crime are :
- A human being under a legal obligation to act in a particular way and a fit subject for the infliction of appropriate punishment;
- An evil intent on the part of such a human being;
- An act committed or omitted in furtherance of such an intent;
- An injury to another human being or to society at large by such act.
III. BASIC PRINCIPLES OF CRIMINAL LIABILITY
An act to amount to a crime must conform to the following two cardinal principles of criminal liability :
- No one is held criminally liable unless he had done an act which is expressly forbidden under the criminal law.
- There is no liability under criminal law for omissions, unless there is a duty imposed by law to do the act
IV. STAGES OF CRIME
If a person commits a crime voluntarily or after preparation, the doing of it involves four different stages which are as follows :
- The intention to commit it;
- Preparation to commit;
- Attempt to commit it &
- The accomplishment
The Stages of Commission of Crime can be explained as under :-
1. Intention – Intention is the first stage in the commission of an offence and known as the mental stage. Intention is the direction of conduct towards the object chosen upon considering the motives which suggest the choice. But the law does not take notice of an intention. Mere intention to commit an offence not followed by any act, cannot constitute an offence. The obvious reason for not prosecuting the accused at this stage is that it is very difficult for the prosecution to prove the guilty mind of a person.
2. Preparation – It is the second stage in the commission of the crime. It means to arrange the necessary measures for the commission of the intended criminal act. Intention alone or the intention followed by a preparation is not enough to constitute the crime. Preparation has not been made punishable, except in few cases, because in most of the cases the prosecution has failed to prove the preparations in the question were made for the commission of the particular crime.
Illustration : A purchases a pistol and keeps it in his pocket in order to kill B, but does nothing thereon. A has not committed any offence as still he is at the stage of preparation and it will be impossible for the prosecution to prove that A was carrying the loaded pistol only for the killing of B.
Preparation When Punishable – Following are some exceptional cases, inter-alia, where preparation has been made punishable :
- S. 122, IPC 1860 – Preparation to wage war against the government.
- S. 399, IPC – Preparation to commit dacoity.
- S. 242, 243, 259, 266 &474 – Possessing counterfeit coins, false weight or measurement and forged documents. Mere possession of these is a crime and no possessor can plead that he is still at the stage of preparation.
3. Attempt – Attempt is the direct movement towards the commission of a crime after the preparation is made. According to English law, a person may be guilty of an attempt to commit an offence if he does an act which is more than merely preparatory to the commission of the offence; and a person will be guilty of attempting to commit an offence even though the facts are such that the commission of the offence is impossible. There are three essential elements of an attempt :
- Guilty intention to commit an offence;
- Some act done towards the commission of the offence;
- The act must fall short of the completed offence.
Attempt under IPC, 1860 – The IPC has dealt with attempt in four different ways, which are as follows :
- The first case is where completed offences and attempts have been dealt with in the same section and same punishment is prescribed for both. For instance :
S. 121 – wherein waging or attempting to wage war is punishable with death or imprisonment for life and fine.
S. 385 – Whoever commits or attempts to commit extortion shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or fine or both.
- Secondly, attempts to commit offences and commission of specific offences have been dealt with separately and separate punishments are provided for attempt to commit such offences from those of the offences committed. For instance :
Murder is punishable u/s 302 and attempt to murder u/s 307.
Robbery is punishable u/s 392 and attempt to commit robbery u/s 393.
- Thirdly, attempt to commit suicide is punished u/s 309.
- Fourthly, all other cases where no specific provisions regarding attempt are made are covered under section 511 which provides that the accused shall be punished with one-half of the longest term of imprisonment provided for the offence or with prescribed fine or with both.
4. Accomplishment or Completion – The last stage in the commission of an offence is its accomplishment or completion. If the accused succeeds in his attempt to commit the crime, he will be guilty of the complete offence and if his attempt is unsuccessful he will be guilty of attempt only. For example, A fires at B with the intention kill him, if B dies, A will be guilty of the offence of murder and if B is only injured, it will be a case of attempt to murder.