Lightfoot v. State

The Facts

Defendant allegedly was one of three men entering a laundromat, one of whom pointed a gun at the victim and demanded cash.  Victim gave defendant cash in the back room and he placed the money into a bag.   The other two men were standing by the security guard with their guns displayed.  After the robbery was reported, police saw defendant who matched the description of the robber, and two other men.  The officers asked defendant to come outside, where they requested his ID.  When he responded with his ID, the officers saw a bulge in his pocket, which they found to be a gun, and then arrested him.

Procedural History

Tried by jury, convicted.  Victim identified defendant as one of the three robbers, but not the one with the gun demanding money.  Security guards ID’d him as the man with the gun demanding money.  One of the customers ID’d him as the robber who stood in the main room keeping people quiet.  Judge ruled “that an accused, charged with both a crime and an attempt to commit it, may be acquitted of the crime and yet convicted of the attempt where the evidence establishes that the crime was in fact committed.

The Issue

Whether a defendant may “properly be convicted of attempted armed robbery upon evidence clearly establishing a consummated armed robbery.”


Attempt defined:  “an intent to commit it, the doing of some act towards its commission, and the failure to consummate its commission.”

The Holding/Reasoning

Yes, conviction affirmed.  Many courts have help that attempt cannot occur where the crime is not incomplete, yet others have held that one can be guilty of both an attempt and the consummated crime.  “In a sense the commission of an offense involves an attempt to commit it.  It may not be a degree of the main offense, nor be necessarily included therein, so as to require the court to charge with reference thereto in every case where the commission of an offense is charged.”  Where the offender actually commits a crime, he certainly made an attempt as a logical extension.  Where the crime is complete, the punishment usually does not integrate the attempt charge – the court views the crime in totality; there will not be two separate penalties.


The Indiana Supreme Court has held:  “It should make no difference whether the criminal conduct is successful or unsuccessful when determining an included offense.  The conduct is the same in both cases; the actor’s intent is the same in both cases.”

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