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Mark I. Cohen, ESQ. NYC Criminal Attorney

New York Court Rules That Planning and Trying To Hire Someone To Commit a Crime Is Not an Attempted Crime


On November 24, 2020, the New York court of appeals found that an individual’s act of planning and trying to hire somebody to kill their wife and mother-in-law did not equal attempted murder. The court’s decision shows a need to discuss what exactly constitutes “attempt” in attempted crimes. This article discusses the specifics of the case to shed some light on what constitutes an attempted crime.

According To the Court of Appeals, Planning and Trying To Hire Somebody To Commit a Crime Is Not an Attempted Crime

In April 2016, Benito Lendof-Gonzalez, the defendant, was jailed after being accused of domestic violence. After three weeks, Benito passed a note to an inmate, Michael Shepherd (MS), in the adjacent cell. The defendant had proposed a deal to the Shepherd. The defendant would give Micheal a house. However, the house would come as payment for him killing the defendant’s wife and mother-in-law. In the note, the defendant explained in detail how Michael was to kill the two. The defendant instructed Micheal to kill the wife and mother-in-law at the wife’s house in Lockport. Benito also gave Michael instructions on the exact time the murders were to happen. On top of asking Micheal to kill his wife and mother-in-law, Benito allegedly asked him to make specific arrangements for his two sons’ care. Benito expected Micheal to do as instructed soon after leaving jail, but Micheal had other plans.

Michael Shepherd never intended to kill the defendant’s wife and mother-in-law. However, he played along and acted as though he would commit the crime. Benito continued to provide more instructions to Micheal and even gave a map to him. The map would lead Micheal to where he was to take the children after killing Benito’s wife and mother-in-law.

After Micheal’s release, he and Benito continued discussing the plans. Contrary to the defendant’s expectations, on May 19, when Micheal visited Benito in jail, he allowed authorities to record their conversation. With that, the defendant was charged with attempted murder. A jury convicted the defendant.

The defendant appealed the decision, arguing that the mere act of planning and trying to hire someone to kill his wife and mother-in-law did not equal attempted murder. The courts of appeal agreed with the defense, citing that the evidence was insufficient to prove a case of attempted murder. The court explained that the defendant never passed the planning stage. Thus, he never acted upon his intentions. According to the court, an individual is guilty of attempted murder if their behavior comes “dangerously close” to committing the planned crime. According to the court, if, for example, the defendant had given Micheal access to a murder weapon by the time he was being charged, maybe the outcome of the case would have been different.

Contact a Qualified NYC Criminal Attorney Today

Sometimes people make plans to commit a crime and then change their minds for various reasons. When charged with an attempted crime, you must protect your rights. If you have been accused of an attempted crime, contact experienced NYC criminal attorney Mark I. Cohen, Esq. at 212-732-0002 to receive legal help.



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