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Name: People v. Superior Court of Los Angeles (Decker)
Case #: S130489
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 05/21/2007

To prove an attempted crime, it must be established that there is a direct but ineffectual act toward accomplishing the offense and where the design of the person to commit the crime is clearly shown, “slight” acts in furtherance of the design will constitute an attempt. (People v. Anderson (1934) 1 Cal.2d 687.) An attempt to commit a crime must go beyond preparation. Preparation consists of devising or arranging the means or measures necessary for the commission of the offense whereas attempt requires direct movement toward the commission after the preparations are made. Here, Decker researched how to hire an assassin to murder his sister and her friend, for several months he accumulated the money to pay the assassin, he knew the layout of his sister’s home and how to enter it, he hired a purported assassin (who was in reality an undercover sheriff’s officer). This evidence was sufficient to hold Decker to answer on both the solicitation charges and the attempted murder charges. (Disapproving People v. Adami (1973) 36 Cal.App.3d 452, which failed to consider the “slight acts” rule, but not finding that an agreement to kill followed by a down payment is always sufficient to support a charge of attempted murder.)