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Smith, Hogan and Ormerod's Essentials of Criminal Law

Smith, Hogan and Ormerod's Essentials of Criminal Law (5th edn)

John Child and David Ormerod
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date: 18 July 2024

p. 45111. General inchoate offenceslocked

p. 45111. General inchoate offenceslocked

  • David OrmerodDavid OrmerodProfessor of Criminal Justice, University College London Deputy High Court Judge Barrister, Bencher of Middle Temple
  •  and John ChildJohn ChildProfessor of Criminal Law, Birmingham Law School Co-Director of the Birmingham Centre for Crime, Justice and Policing Co-Director of the Criminal Law Reform Now Network


This chapter deals with general inchoate offences. A person’s conduct may be inchoate (‘just begun’, ‘undeveloped’), but also deserving of criminalisation. The chapter is structured around the three general inchoate offences, namely: attempt, conspiracy, and assisting or encouraging. It explains the actus reus and mens rea of each of these offences, along with specific defences. It also looks at double inchoate liability, substantive offences in an inchoate form, and potential options for legal reform concerning the actus reus of attempts, the mens rea of attempts and conspiracy, and assisting and encouraging. Finally, the chapter discusses the application of general inchoate offences within problem questions. Relevant cases are highlighted throughout the chapter, with brief summaries of the main facts and judgments.

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