2
   

Why should consequences matter?

 
 
layman
 
Reply Mon 9 Nov, 2015 10:15 am
If somebody gives me a loaded assault rifle and I head down to McDonald's and proceed to slaughter a shitload of people, chances are I will get the death penalty.

If I "try" to do the same thing, not so much. If, unbeknownst to me, the weapon was only "loaded" with foam rubber ammunition, does that somehow make me less culpable? Am I less in need of deterrence/rehabilitation/punishment?

What's up with that?
 
dalehileman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Nov, 2015 11:12 am
@layman,
Really good q, Lay

Somewhat parallel to the idea, if it's okay to chop up and eat Porky or Dolly with the intelligence of a 3-year-old humanoid, why not one's own baby

...well of course we do pull 'em out and chop 'em up don't we
0 Replies
 
Leadfoot
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Nov, 2015 11:32 am
@layman,
It IS a good question.

From a theological perspective the answer is no, it's just as bad. So is thinking about it with intent to do it. But we're still here trying to figure out why such a batshit crazy thing makes sense, so I guess we still have to be proportional.
dalehileman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Nov, 2015 11:38 am
@Leadfoot,
Lead, well foot
Leadfoot
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Nov, 2015 11:43 am
@dalehileman,
Yeah, but when we figure it out - Off with their heads!
dalehileman
 
  0  
Reply Mon 9 Nov, 2015 11:52 am
@Leadfoot,
Oh, I'm sure the biblical respondents will justify it all

God approving of almost anything that tastes good

...while meantime I sure do enjoy that morning strip of bacon....
Leadfoot
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Nov, 2015 12:07 pm
@dalehileman,
Well, if we were all Gods and our every thought was made reality,
Then bacon would be good for us...
dalehileman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Nov, 2015 12:13 pm
@Leadfoot,
Yes, yes, Lead, let's work on that....
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  3  
Reply Mon 9 Nov, 2015 12:37 pm
@layman,
layman wrote:

If somebody gives me a loaded assault rifle and I head down to McDonald's and proceed to slaughter a shitload of people, chances are I will get the death penalty.

If I "try" to do the same thing, not so much.

It's true that the law, in a sense, rewards inept criminals who could never have carried out their crimes. Thus, in the example you give, the worst the state could charge you with would be attempted murder.

But then the law makes those kinds of distinctions all the time. For instance, you'd be charged with a lesser crime if you stole $100 than if you stole $10,000, even though you'd be no less of a thief. That's because society has long accepted that punishments should reflect the gravity of the offense. Killing someone is judged to be worse than trying to kill someone, and so the law takes that into account when meting out punishments.

Nothing terribly novel about that. The surprising thing is that you have claimed elsewhere to be a utilitarian. I would think that consequences would be a relevant consideration to a consequentialist.
layman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Nov, 2015 01:21 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
Killing someone is judged to be worse than trying to kill someone,


The question assumes that. It was "Why?"

Quote:
But then the law makes those kinds of distinctions all the time


Yeah, so?
layman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Nov, 2015 02:31 pm
@joefromchicago,
I mean, like, the penalties for attempted murder could be the same as for murder. They could go "as high as" the death penalty. Doesn't mean you would have to impose it in any given case, but at least you could if you thought it was warranted. You could still have a lower "floor," too

But that wasn't the real point of the question. I was asking about an "ought," not an "is."
puzzledperson
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Nov, 2015 04:55 pm
@layman,
I found this question quite interesting and stimulating.

Before I address the question as asked, let's consider the broader question of attempted vs. completed crimes.

We might begin by making a distinction between allowed sentences vs. sentencing in practice. We can ask in the general case two questions: (1) Are allowed sentences for attempted crimes the same as for completed crimes? (2) Are actual sentences for attempted crimes lesser in practice than for completed crimes, and if so why?

I checked "Felony Sentences in State Courts, 2006", published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice.

A footnote on the first page struck me as both surprising and important: 94 percent of those sentenced in 2006 for felony offenses plead guilty.

Intent is an important element of criminal prosecution, but in the case of attempted crimes evidence of intent may be less tangible. Plea deals securing a conviction might in some cases include decreased sentencing recommendations by prosecutors.

Also, attempted offenses include crimes of omission and crimes of abetting where no direct action was taken, which again can lead to evidentiary issues.

As for whether allowed sentences are lighter for attempted crimes than for completed crimes, that varies from state to state, but I suspect that Arizona is fairly typical. According to Arizona Revised Statutes, Title 13, attempted crimes are classified one level below the completed crimes of which they are attempts. So for example, a Class 1 felony is as an attempt a Class 2 felony. A Class 6 felony (the lowest) is a Class 1 misdemeanor (the highest).

Since offenses of adjacent classes generally have overlapping allowed sentencing ranges, the theoretical difference between allowed sentences for attempted crimes and those completed, may not be significantly different, except at the margins.

Why should there be any difference at all? One possible theory might be that more serious actual consequences should be treated more severely. For example, an attempted burglary that fails to deprive victims of property, versus a completed one that does. In this interpretation, the idea is not that the intent is any less culpable, but that the consequences, being more serious, should be treated more seriously. This strikes me as defective reasoning; but in a case where strong evidence permits aggressive prosecution, the actual sentence may be about the same as for a completed offense, at least in theory.

This brings us to the original question, which deals with capital crimes. There may be states where attempted capital crimes can be punished with death, but if so it must be rare. Again, lesser sentencing for a heinous crime that fails despite the best attempts of the criminal, seems misguided. However, it may be that past abuses of capital punishment resulted in appellate decisions that became part of case law or common law. I'll be looking into this further.
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Nov, 2015 05:23 pm
@layman,
Quote:
If I "try" to do the same thing, not so much. If, unbeknownst to me, the weapon was only "loaded" with foam rubber ammunition, does that somehow make me less culpable? Am I less in need of deterrence/rehabilitation/punishment?


Yes, if you are too stupid to carry out an act of aggression then you are less a danger to the collective. However, the bigger problem with your question is that transgression requires an actual completed act of transgression, the desire or attempt alone is not a violation of anyone elses rights, so no crime has taken place....with some few exceptions....thus the collective has no right to retribution. If we were to let this bedrock of just law go we would be back to burning witches.
puzzledperson
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Nov, 2015 06:08 pm
@layman,
P.S. Results of further research:

In 1972 the U.S.Supreme Court reviewed two cases in which state courts had upheld capital sentences for rape: Jackson v. Georgia, and Branch v. Texas. No death occurred in either case. Branch committed rape of a woman in the course of a home robbery. The court ruled that such punishment was "cruel and unusual" and violated the Constitution.

Apparently it set the bar pretty high for the application of the death penalty.

That notwithstanding, the original version of the Continuing Criminal Enterprise federal statute (sometimes referred to as the Kingpin Act) provided for capital punishment in cases where organized crime members "counseled" the death of certain high federal officials, even if no such death occurred. These provisions seem to have been repealed in federal law in 2006. I don't believe the constitutionality of this provision was ever tested.
puzzledperson
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Nov, 2015 06:17 pm
@hawkeye10,
hawkeye10 wrote: "... the desire or attempt alone is not a violation of anyone elses rights, so no crime has taken place..."

Desire is not a crime but attempted crimes are defined in both state and federal law as crimes.

The FBI has conducted several sting operations in which would-be terrorists were provided with fake explosives that harmed no one, and the offenders were successfully prosecuted and given long sentences. Undercover state or local police sometimes conduct sting operations in murder for hire cases, pretending to be hit-men, with the same result. Prosecutions for attempted crimes and conspiracy to commit crimes are common at both the state and federal level.
puzzledperson
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Nov, 2015 06:31 pm
@puzzledperson,
Re typical sentencing in practice in attempted murder cases:

"... states typically impose a prison sentence equal to about half the sentence associated with a murder conviction."

http://www.criminaldefenselawyer.com/resources/criminal-defense/crime-penalties/charged-attempted-murder.htm

0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Nov, 2015 06:52 pm
@puzzledperson,
puzzledperson wrote:



The FBI has conducted several sting operations in which would-be terrorists were provided with fake explosives that harmed no one, and the offenders were successfully prosecuted and given long sentences. Undercover state or local police sometimes conduct sting operations in murder for hire cases, pretending to be hit-men, with the same result. Prosecutions for attempted crimes and conspiracy to commit crimes are common at both the state and federal level.



They seemed to have backed off of this ploy, too many cases of the government talking mentally challenged people into saying the right words, and then giving them a replica of a weapon before arresting them and charging them with a few dozen crimes put a bit of chill in the air. Some of us citizens got the idea that these were acts of public relations, not law enforcement.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Nov, 2015 09:58 pm
@layman,
layman wrote:
But that wasn't the real point of the question. I was asking about an "ought," not an "is."

You tell me. As I noted above, I believe you describe yourself as a utilitarian. If that's the case, why are you even questioning whether consequences should be taken into account?
layman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Nov, 2015 10:00 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
I believe you describe yourself as a utilitarian.


Some days I is, some days I aint.

But I was kinda hopin for something more than an ad hominem answer, eh, Joe?
joefromchicago
 
  4  
Reply Mon 9 Nov, 2015 10:07 pm
@layman,
layman wrote:
Some days I is, some days I aint.

I see. So you're just confused. I'll keep that in mind.

layman wrote:
But I was kinda hopin for something more than an ad hominem answer, eh, Joe?

I don't know what you mean. I gave my response in my initial post. You evidently didn't like it. Nothing ad hominem about that at all.
 

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