Indian Penal Code

Stages of Crime

Generally, the term criminal law refers to substantive criminal laws. Substantive criminal laws state crimes and decide punishments. In contrast, Criminal Procedure describes the process by which the courts enforce criminal laws. E.g., the law which prohibits murder is a substantive criminal law. In this article, we will look at the various stages of crime.


Criminal law is a body that defines the acts which are illegal and can affect the individual, property, society. Crime threatens and harms public welfare and safety. Moreover, criminal law is different from civil law as the latter emphasizes more on providing resolution rather than punishment.

Stages of Crime

Whenever a crime happens and that too intentionally, there is a full-fledged process or stages behind it. In case of every crime, Firstly there is an intention to commit it, Secondly, preparation to commit it, Thirdly, attempt to commit it and Lastly the accomplishment.

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Stages of Crime

1. Intention

The intention is the first stage of any offense and is known as the mental or psycho stage. In this stage, the offender decides the motive and decides his course or direction towards the offense. The ironical fact about this stage is that the law cannot punish the person just for having an intention to do any illegal act.

Moreover, being the mental concept, it is very difficult to judge if a person possesses any such intention. Just by having an intention will not constitute an offense.

2. Preparation

Preparation is the second stage amongst the stages of crime. It means to arrange the necessary resources for the execution of the intentional criminal act. Intention and preparation alone are not enough to constitute a crime. Preparation is not punishable because in many cases the prosecution fails to prove that the preparations in the question are for the execution of the particular crime.

3. Attempt

An attempt is a direct movement towards the execution of a crime after the preparation of the plan. According to law, a person is guilty of an attempt to commit an offense if he/she does an act which is more than simply preparatory to the commission of the offense. Moreover, a person is guilty of attempting to commit an offense even though the facts are such that the execution of the offense seems to be impossible.

Learn Offense Affecting Property – Extortion here. 

4. Accomplishment

The last stage in the commission of an offense is its successful completion. If the accused becomes successful in his attempt to commit the crime, he will be guilty of the complete offense. Moreover, if his attempt is unsuccessful he will be guilty of his attempt.

Question on Stages of Crime

Question: Give examples of ‘Preparation’ and ‘Accomplishment’ as a stage of crime.

Answer: Example for Preparation: If Ram buys a gun and keeps the same in his pocket fully loaded in order to kill his enemy Rahim, but does nothing more. Ram has not committed any offense because he is at the stage of preparation and it will be impossible for the prosecution to prove that Ram is carrying the pistol in his pocket for the purpose of killing Rahim.

Example for Accomplishment: A fires at B with the intention to kill him, if B dies, A will be guilty of committing the offense of murder and if B is only injured, it will be a case of attempt to murder.

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