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The intuitive idea that failed attempts to complete crimes are often themselves crimes belies the complexity and confusion surrounding the adjudication of criminal attempts. This Article offers an account of the grounds for the criminalization of attempt that provides the courts with sorely needed substantive guidance about precisely which kinds of behavior constitute a criminal attempt. The Article focuses on three well-known problems in the adjudication of attempt that have been particularly baffling both to courts and to commentators: specifying the line between solicitation and attempt; determining the conditions under which an “impossible” attempt is still criminal; and identifying the relevance of abandonment to responsibility for and sentencing of attempts. The Article proposes specific doctrinal recommendations for adjudicating all three kinds of attempts; these recommendations are implied by the conceptual framework developed here for thinking about attempt.

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