In English criminal law, inchoate offenses are those where an individual — or a group of individuals — incite, conspire to, or attempt to commit a criminalised act. Criminal liability exists in such situations to protect the public from dangerous individuals, and to apprehend criminals at the earliest possible opportunity, to prevent harm to others. The three inchoate offenses were previously established at common law, though recently the Law Reform Commission has taken steps to change this position, with the passing of the Serious Crime Act 2007 codifying the offence of incitement.
The offense of incitement arises where one individual intends the commission of a crime, and acts in such a way as to incite another to commit it. It is outlined by the Serious Crime Act 2007, in which it was reformed from a common law position on recommendation of the Law Reform Commission. The actus reus of this offence is fulfilled where a defendant carries out an act that is capable of encouraging the commission of an offence; this includes threatening another, taking steps to reduce the possibility of criminal proceedings, and failing to take reasonable steps to discharge a duty. It is not enough however that an individual commits an act capable of inciting a crime, there must also be a mens rea of complete intention that such actions are to incite criminal behavior. For example, it is not sufficient that the incitement of crime is merely a forseeable consequence of an action.
- Serious Crime Act 2007, section 65 (1)
- Serious Crime Act 2007, section 65 (2a)
- Serious Crime Act 2007, section 65 (2b)
- Card, p. 555