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Attempted Offences and Conspiracy (Qld)

Under Queensland Criminal Code, a person can be charged with an attempted offence or with conspiring to commit a criminal offence. The maximum penalties which apply to attempted offences and conspiracies to commit offences depend on the penalty that applies to the completed offence. The maximum penalty that applies to an attempted offence is generally half of the maximum penalty for the completed offence. The Criminal Code also contains provisions that relate specifically to attempted murder, attempted rape and attempting to cause injury using explosives or noxious substances.

Attempts to commit offences

Under Section 4 of the Criminal Code, a person is guilty of an offence when they intend to carry out an offence and begin to put that intention into execution.

A person can be found guilty of an attempted offence even if they did not carry out all the actions necessary to commit the offence and even if they desisted from committing the offence of their own accord.

It is immaterial whether it was, in fact, impossible to carry out the offence because of circumstances that were unknown to the offender.

An example of attempted burglary is where a person breaks the window of a house with the intention of entering and stealing. The person would be guilty of attempted burglary whether or not it was, in fact, possible to get into the house through the window and even if they changed their mind after the window had been broken.

Penalties for attempted offences

Section 536 of the Code provides that a person who attempts an indictable offence is subject to the following penalties:

Offence attemptedMaximum penalty
Indictable offence punishable by mandatory life imprisonmentLife imprisonment (but not mandatory)
Indictable offence punishable by life imprisonmentImprisonment for 14 years
Any other indictable offenceHalf the maximum penalty that applies

Under Section 538 of the Criminal Code, if an accused attempted an offence but voluntarily desisted of their own accord and not because of circumstances outside of their control, they are subject to only half of the penalty that would apply otherwise for the attempted offence.

Attempt to murder

Section 306 of the Code makes it an offence punishable by imprisonment for life for a person to:

  • attempt to unlawfully kill another person; or
  • do something or omit to do something that it is their duty to do, with the intention of killing another person.

Attempt to rape

Under Section 350 of the Criminal Code, attempting to rape another person is a crime punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment. 

Attempted offences of injury by explosives or noxious substances

Under Section 321 of the Code, putting explosives or noxious substances in a place with the intention of doing bodily harm to another person is a crime punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment.

Conspiracy to commit offences

Under section 541 of the Code, a person who conspires with another person to commit a crime is guilty of a crime and liable to a maximum penalty of imprisonment for seven years. However, if the crime that is attempted carries a maximum penalty of less than seven years, then that maximum penalty also applies to an attempted offence.

Under Section 542 of the Code, a person who conspires with another person to commit an offence and not a crime is guilty of a misdemeanour and is liable to imprisonment for up to three years imprisonment.

A person is guilty of a conspiracy offence if they conspire to commit any act which is a criminal offence in Queensland, even if the act contemplated is intended to be committed outside of Queensland provided it would also constitute an offence in the jurisdiction where it is proposed to be committed.

If you require legal advice or representation in a criminal law matter or in any other legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal. 

Fernanda Dahlstrom

This article was written by Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. She has also completed a Master’s in Writing and Literature. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory and in family law in Queensland.

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