Stages of Crime under Indian Penal Code, 1860

STAGES OF CRIME UNDER INDIAN PENAL CODE,1860

INTRODUCTION

Crime in simple terms can be understood as an act or omission of an act which is harmful to the society or poses danger to the life and property of the people living in the society. Such an act is punishable under the law.

According to Merriam Webster crime is an illegal act for which someone can be punished by the government.[1]There are various crimes present in the society from mere theft to heinous, inhumane crime like rape, murder, dacoity and the list goes on and on. There are four stages in the commission of crime and they are:

  • Intention
  • Preparation
  • Attempt
  • Accomplishment

STAGES OF CRIME

1. INTENTION:

This is the very first step in the commission of a crime. The mental consciousness of a person to do an act is taken into consideration under intention. But mere intention to commit an offence is not punishable because it is too early to make a person liable for a thing he may or may not be thinking to do. During this stage there is always a scope that the person may back down and change his mind and not commit a crime.

Example: B had a fight with his neighbor C. C enraged thought that he will beat B when night falls. But as the day passed the temper of C came down and he decided not to do any act like beating B or having a fight with him again. Here the mere intention that C had does not mean that he will commit a crime it is possible that the intention may change.

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2. PREPARATION:

This is the second step in the commission of a crime. Preparation can be understood as making arrangements or gathering the required materials that will help in carrying out the intended crime.

  • Example 1: X purchases a particular poison to kill Y. Here, purchasing the poison will come under preparation to commit a crime.
  • Example 2: A bought a gun to kill B. Here, purchasing the gun will come under preparation to commit a crime.

The question that arises here is that whether the mere preparation is enough to commit a crime? No, it is not because a person, by saying that the preparation was not done to commit a crime may get away with it. Hence, the stage of preparation is not punishable.

EXCEPTIONS:

Preparation is not punishable but there are a few exceptions to this general rule, that is the crimes mentioned hereafter are punishable even at the preparation stage. They are:

  • Preparation to wage war against the Government- Section 122 of IPC.
  • Preparation to commit depredation on territories of Power at peace with the Government of India- Section 126 of IPC.
  • Preparation for counterfeiting of coins or Government stamps- Section 233-235 of IPC, Section 256 & 257 of IPC
  • Preparation to commit Dacoity- Section 399 of IPC.

If any person is found to be liable under the above-mentioned sections, then he will be punished even if it is a stage of preparation.

3. ATTEMPT:

Attempt is the third stage in the commission of a crime. Attempt is also known as inchoate crime. Inchoate crimes are crimes that are unfinished. These crimes are also known as incomplete crimes. One type of inchoate crime is the attempt to commit crime. An attempt to commit crime occurs when a person tries to carry out a crime but fails to do so.[2]

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Attempt can be understood as a direct movement towards the commission of a crime that is when all the preparation is done and steps to commit the actual crime are taken, but when a person fails to commit the particular offence then it is called an attempt to commit a crime.

  • Example 1: Continuing the above-mentioned example X bought poison to kill Y. X mixed the poison in the food served to Y but while Y was going to eat his food someone pushed him and the food spilled all over. Here as soon as X added poison to the food of Y and served it to him, attempt to crime was committed.
  • Example 2: Continuing the second example as mentioned above A bought a gun to kill B. Now, if A takes out the gun to kill B it is considered to be still a preparation stage but as soon as he pulls the trigger to shoot at B it becomes attempt to commit a crime.

The attempt to commit a crime is punishable. The reason to it that as soon as a person attempts to commit a crime it raises an alarm towards the safety of the people living in the society. Even though the person is not successful in commission of the crime the attempt stage clearly makes a fearful situation for the person against whom such attempt was made and towards the people around him.

4. ACCOMPLISHMENT:

Accomplishment is the last stage in the commission of a crime. Accomplishment in simple terms can be understood when something is achieved. Hence accomplishment here means successful completion of a crime. When an attempt is successful then it is considered as accomplishment.

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  • Example 1: Continuing the above-mentioned example X bought poison to kill Y. X mixed the poison in the food served to Y. Y eats the food and after a few minutes due to the impact of the poison he dies. Here, X has accomplished what he wanted, that is to kill Y.
  • Example 2: Continuing the second example as mentioned above A bought a gun to kill B. Now, as soon as the trigger is pulled and the bullet hits B and he dies immediately. Here also the accomplishment of a crime is seen.

The stage of accomplishment is punishable.

CONCLUSION

To conclude crime involves four stages intention, preparation, attempt and accomplishment. When a person is accused of committing a crime then all the four stages are to be taken into consideration in order to pass a judgement.

 

[1] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/crime

[2] https://study.com/academy/lesson/inchoate-crimes-definition-examples.html

Author: Gargi Mishra,
Amity Law School, Student of 3rd Year B.A.LLB(H)

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