Giving it the old college try …

There seems to be a whole lot of attempted criminality going on in Solano County’s shadowy underworld these days.

It’s truly remarkable how many attempted felonies continue to crop up in Solano County’s criminal justice system on a day-to-day basis.

Every 10th case in Superior Court seems to involve some poor stooge endeavoring to pull off a crime without actually succeeding, but still managing to get caught in the process.

Attempted crimes in California (and especially in Solano County, it would seem) are defined under Penal Code Section 664, which precedes the Penal Code violation which was attempted when listed in a criminal complaint, court calendar or one’s personal best scorecard.

(You’re following all of this, right?)

Thus, a murder under Penal Code Section 187 which didn’t turn out quite as fatally as the perpetrator would have liked, would be charged as an attempted murder, or 664/187.

Simple, eh?

For example, you finally get fed up with your loudmouth neighbor Jocko one hot, annoying afternoon and you open up on him with your trusty assault rifle while he’s rototilling his rhubarb patch.

Jocko escapes your homicidal rampage and you, Mr. Grumpy, wind up in the slammer charged with attempted murder.

As an attempted felony, this is pretty straightforward stuff.

What’s been puzzling me lately, however, are some of the other attempted criminal charges that are turning up in court every few days.

Not long ago I came across a hapless fellow charged with attempting to make criminal threats.
How, exactly, do you not quite succeed in making a full blown threat and then actually get caught for attempting to do so?

Did this guy run out of quarters at the pay phone?

Was he tongue-tied, repeatedly calling his would-be victim and then stumbling all over his blood-curdling threats?

(“Hey, you! Yeah, I’m talkin’ to YOU. Why, when I get my hands on you, I’m gonna, eh, uh, I mean, you’d better make yourself scarce, pal, cause I’m gonna, uhhhhhhh, well, you just better watch it, fella – ya know what I’m sayin’?!…”)

Or maybe our fumble-fingered felon simply dialed the wrong number and rang up, say, the Benicia police chief instead of his no-account brother-in-law.

Almost as puzzling is a recurring charge of attempting to receive stolen property.

This has got to be downright embarrassing to any self-respecting trafficker in goods of dubious provenance.

What did this guy do, lunge for a hot CD player and stumble head first into a nearby police car? Or accidentally take possession of some property that wasn’t, in fact, stolen?

This is, sadly enough, the kind of charge that automatically earns you the nickname “Doofus” on your future cellblock.

And then there was the case of attempted indecent exposure.

I don’t really want to speculate about this one too much, but how difficult can it be to operate an overcoat?

You can bet dedicated flashers from Slab Fork to South Wenatchee are rolling their eyes over that one…

Originally published August 10, 2003

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