What happens if you are on trial for a large crime and there are no smaller crimes within? What happens if a prosecutor is attempting to convict you of smaller crimes, all of which will add on fines and earn you more time in prison? Because of these scenarios, when you have been convicted of a crime, it is important for you to understand the differences between lesser included and lesser related offenses, and how they can come into play when it deals with your case.
Lesser Included Offenses
What is a lesser included offense? A lesser included offense is a crime that is a part of a more serious crime. Courts will arrive at a determination of whether or not one crime is included within another when they look at allegations in a charging document or when they look at evidence produced by prosecution. Another way to tell is with something known as an elements test. In these tests, the greater crime is inspected thoroughly to see if it contains every element of the lesser included crime. It has to contain additional elements as well, however.
If you take, for example, possessing a drug, you could potentially see knowingly and unlawfully possessing a drug with the intent to sell and distribute it. When this occurs, possession of a drug would be seen as a lesser included offense of possession of a drug to sell or distribute.
Lesser Related Offenses
This applies where two crimes are very similar but contain different elements. However, neither crime will contain all of the elements of the other crime. A consideration of evidence involved in a crime could lead to a conclusion that one crime is related to another. For instance, vandalism wouldn’t necessarily be considered a lesser included offense of burglary. However, vandalism and burglary are very closely related. This means that the proof for each crime is similar, and the definitions of the crimes protect the same interest, and evidence may suggest that vandalism occurred in some cases. This means, under common interpretation, vandalism could be considered a lesser related offense of burglary.
Example of a Distinction Being Important
Knowing the distinction between the two can be very important and vital to the outcome of a case. For instance, take into consideration a man who is on trial for possession of marijuana for sale. The attorney on his side is attempting to convince the jury that the man had the marijuana only for personal use, even though he did in fact have possession of the drug. The attorney instructs the judge to give a jury instruction on the lesser offense of the simple possession. Because of this, the jurors will have the option of convicting Jesse of something other than possession for sale’s sake. The prosecution may say, from their point of view, it looks to them that the amount of marijuana would only lead others to believe it was for sale and not personal use. In this kind of scenario, a lesser crime like simple possession is necessarily included within to a more serious offense like possession for sale. The differences can be critical to the defendant.
If you have been involved in a crime and believe that there should be a distinction made between lesser included and lesser related offenses, you may want to seek the experience of an attorney. Call The Blair Law Firm today to speak to an attorney that you can trust.