Man shoots a woman during a scuffle. Man gets charged with aggravated assault, not attempted murder. Everybody says: “Kelly, why aren’t you charging him with attempted murder?” Here’s why.
In Georgia, attempted murder is one of those things that doesn’t make a lot of sense. (Remember my maxim – Law is 98% common sense, 2% whimsy). But there is a reason. “Attempt” crimes have one-half the punishment of the “full” crime. Murder is a crime that is punishable by life in prison. So what is one-half of life? The Legislature, years ago, decided that on any crime punishable by life, the punishment would be 10 years in prison. So half of life is 10 years. (I believe that this goes back to the days of early parole for violent crimes, which fortunately we don’t have anymore.)
Now back to attempted murder. Criminal attempt is when a person, with intent to commit a specific crime, performs any act which constitutes a substantial step toward the commission of that crime. Murder is when a person unlawfully and with malice aforethought, either express or implied, causes the death of another human being. So to prove attempted murder, the State would have to show the intention to cause the death of another, with express or implied malice aforethought. This is a tough burden to meet, especially when there is another charge which fits the bill.
Aggravated assault is committed when one assaults another with a deadly weapon or with any object, device, or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in serious bodily injury.
As we review our facts, the man shot the woman, which is a serious bodily injury. Plus, a gun is obviously a deadly weapon. So under either phrase of the statute, the man has committed aggravated assault. There is no specific intent requirement, so the State doesn’t have to prove what “his intent” was. The other benefit of aggravated assault is that it has a twenty year maximum sentence, plus it is a 90% parole rule which means that the offender will have to serve 90% of whatever sentence is imposed.
So that is why you almost never see attempted murder charged in Georgia. Aggravated assault is not as hard to prove, and it has double the sentence.