Inchoate Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Inchoate, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Inchoate?

Things which are not yet completed or finished or is imperfect. A contract is said to be inchoate if whatrever that had been agreed is not yet fulfilled.

History and Meaning of Inchoate

The term inchoate comes from the Latin word incohāre, which means "to begin". In law, it is used to describe something that is not fully formed or completed, typically a criminal act that has been planned but not yet carried out. An inchoate offense can involve a conspiracy to commit a crime, an attempt to commit a crime, or the solicitation of someone else to commit a crime.

Inchoate crimes are also referred to as anticipatory offenses because they involve an attempt to anticipate or prevent harm before it occurs. The legal system recognizes that individuals who plan or attempt to commit a crime pose a danger and should be punished accordingly. However, the level of punishment for inchoate offenses is usually less severe than for completed crimes.

Examples of Inchoate

  1. A group of individuals plan to rob a bank but are caught before they have a chance to carry out the crime. They can be charged with an inchoate offense.
  2. A person hires a hitman to kill their spouse but the hitman is an undercover police officer. The person can be charged with solicitation, an inchoate offense.
  3. A burglar attempts to break into a home but is caught before they succeed. They can be charged with an inchoate offense of attempted burglary.

Legal Terms Similar to Inchoate

  1. Conspiracy: A criminal agreement between two or more individuals to commit a crime.
  2. Attempt: An unsuccessful effort to commit a crime.
  3. Solicitation: Urging or requesting someone to commit a crime.
  4. Accomplice liability: Holding someone responsible for the actions of another person in the commission of a crime.