What’s the Difference Between a Lesser Included and a Lesser Related Offense?There are big differences between lesser included offenses and lesser related offenses. A lesser included offense, for instance, is actually a crime that is part of another and more serious crime. An offense is seen this way where the greater crime contains every element of the lesser crime, plus one or more additional elements. An offense is seen as lesser related when it is somehow similar to a more serious crime, but neither crime contains all of the elements of the other. One thing to remember when dealing with lesser included and lesser related offenses is that all crimes consist of very important elements. Somebody who commits each element of a crime has committed the exact crime in questioning.

More About Lesser Included Offenses

There are many methods, over the years, which courts have used to determine whether or not one crime is included within another crime. Allegations and evidence can be included in making these determinations. Greater crimes, under the elements test, contain every element of the lesser included crime, plus one or more additional elements. Here is an example: knowing and unlawfully – possessing marijuana – with the intent to sell it. This is a three-part elements; the greater crime within the crime is possessing marijuana in a knowing fashion, and the intent to sell is seen as an added element, which is a very serious offense. This means, in the end, possession of marijuana is a lesser included offense of possession of marijuana to sell.

In Tennessee, there are a handful of crimes that can be seen as a lesser included offense. These include statutes such as Reckless Aggravated Assault, Felony Reckless Endangerment, Simple Assault, Assault by Causing Reasonably Fear of Bodily Injury, and Misdemeanor Assault by Extremely Offensive or Provocative Physical Contact. These decisions were made by the Tennessee Supreme Court and Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals in 2008. The court determined only whether particular crimes were lesser included offenses but did not list all of them.

More About Lesser Related Offenses
In these cases, typically two crimes are seen as similar with varying elements. A consideration of evidence could support a conclusion that the crimes are related. You can take, for instance, a case where a person has smashed a restaurant window but nothing was stolen or disrupted otherwise. However, consider that the prosecution then goes forth and charges him with burglary and attempted burglary. However, then the defendant speaks to the judge to get an option of a vandalism conviction, seeing as he broke the window solely out of anger and had no intent to steal anything within. Vandalism isn’t a lesser included offense to burglary; however, vandalism and burglary are closely related. Evidence introduced by the prosecution might suggest that vandalism occurred in this case. This means that, under common interpretation, vandalism could be considered a lesser related offense of burglary.

Lesser related offenses are important for both defendants and prosecutors because a defendant might be convicted on a lesser related offense rather than a more serious charge. If a defendant has reason to believe that they may be convicted of a crime, lesser related and lesser included step in to offer the defendant a chance at being convicted of a crime with a lesser penalty. If there is any concern that a defendant may not get charged for a crime in the end, a jury could consider a lesser offense to make sure they get something for doing the crime.

Lesser included and lesser related offenses can be extremely complicated. This is why you may want the guidance of an experienced attorney who can understand the complex laws surrounding these offenses and what you should expect if you have been convicted of a large crime. Laws are different for each specific state. Call The Law Office of Peter Blair today to speak to an attorney that you can trust.