The Illustrated Guide to Criminal Law Chapter 9: At Least You Tried Attempt pg 13: Attempt is a Completed Crime
Well, let’s look at the purposes of punishment again:
Rehabilitation? Flint’s trying to commit a crime? He’s gone beyond mere planning, and has taken steps to carry out the crime? Sounds dangerous. Maybe he needs correction.
Deterrence? We don’t want people actively trying to commit crimes—what if they succeed? And we certainly don’t want Flint to try to kill you again.
Removal? Dude, Flint is dangerous. He needs to be locked away. The mere fact that he hasn’t succeeded in killing you yet doesn’t have anything to do with it.
Retribution and Retaliation, however, don’t really apply. Flint hasn’t done any harm yet, so there’s nothing to react to.
Average Joe talking head
No harm, no foul?
And this is where we see how big a role retribution plays as a purpose of punishment. Because although attempted crimes do get punished, they don’t get punished as severely as completed ones.
In principle, there’s no difference between someone who attempts a murder and someone who succeeds in killing. Both are equally bad, pose the same dangers, and have the same criminal intent. The only difference is when they got caught—a matter of pure luck that has nothing to do with their “badness.”
But there is a difference in punishment (in most jurisdictions). And the only reason is because there’s nothing to avenge.