hitman on yourself: what would you be charged with?

NOTE: don’t need answer fast.

Hypothetically, lets say someone goes onto the deep web through Tor, negotiates with and then does a transfer of $20,000 using bit coins to what he believes is a hit man to carry out a hit on JOE VICTIM. Of course the hit man was really an FBI officer, they trace back the transfer (because the NSA controls most of the Tor exit nodes), and its revealed that person that paid for the hit on JOE VICTIM was … JOE VICTIM.

What do you get charged with? Is it still attempted murder or conspiracy to murder? Or would they instead refer the person to forced psychiatric treatment?

not sure, but this reminds me of the movie fletch

No one?

As far as I can tell 18 US Code 1111 defines murder as “unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought”, it doesn’t say the human being has to be someone other than yourself.

On the other hand, people that attempt to commit suicide and fail don’t generally get charged with attempted murder. Does the involvement of a “hit man” in the hypothetical case make a difference or would this fall under the same category as a suicide? (e.g. no charges and instead psychiatric help).

The hitman was being asked to commit the crime of murder. IF he went and did it, then the hitman would have committed the crime of murder.

The act of conspiring with the hitman is normally charged as “conspiracy to commit murder”…

I dont see how its complicated.

The legislators didn’t write “The conspiracy to commit murder is not to be charged where the target is himself.”…

Also, they didnt write “if the conspiracy to commit murder could not have actually, given the benefit of hindsite, resulted in death or danger to anyone else outside the conspiracy it is not conspiracy to commit murder.” No such exceptions in the law. The law is that at the time of planning the understanding with the hitman was that the hitman would commit murder.

sure but in my hypothetical the hit man is actually an FBI agent, who never had any intention of carrying out the murder. Conspiracy requires two or more people to actually intend to carry out the crime, in this case there is only one person with intent, so I can’t see that conspiracy applies.

It may well be that attempted murder applies, except that it never does for suicide cases.

But incitement doesn’t. Perhaps a charge of incitement to murder would lie.

Ah ok, however as far as I can find, there is no specific charge of “incitement” in the US. It did used to be an offence in the UK but has now been replaced with “encouraging or assisting a crime”.


In the UK it sounds like “encouraging or assisting a crime” would definitely apply, however the US equivalent is conspiracy, which I don’t believe does apply.

18 U.S. Code § 373 - Solicitation to commit a crime of violence

I think solicitation applies quite well. The fact that the hitman did not intend to carry out the crime is not a defense under this section. This is federal law, of course. Most murders are prosecuted under state law which might be different.

well that sure sounds appropriate, except that its defined as “Whoever, with intent that another person engage in conduct constituting a felony that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against property or against the person of another”

In this case they are attempting to have another person engage in conduct against themselves, not against “the person of another”.

Does it still apply?

This is the same issue as when a john solicits a prostitute who turns out to be an undercover cop, or when a pedophile chats up an underage girl in an on-line chatroom who turns out to be an adult male FBI officer. IANAL, but my understanding is that in such cases, in most jurisdictions, the perpetrator will get prosecuted according to their mens rea, and it doesn’t matter that the prostitute or the child never actually existed.

The only valid defense would be if the police committed entrapment by taking too much initiative during the communication, reaching out to the perpetrator instead of waiting for him to approach them, and thereby running the risk of tempting an innocent person into committing a crime they were not already predisposed to commit.

This is called the “bilateral” view of conspiracy and is not universal. Although it derives from common law, most states have rejected it by statute and generally follow the “unilateral” approach to conspiracy (only one conspirator with actual intent required). You only seem to be considering federal law here, but the acts would also be state crimes.

Yes, it does. The reference is to soliciting “a felony that has an element the use . . . of physical force against . . the persion of another”.

The felony being solicited in this case would be murder. In this context “other” does not mean other than the person doing the solcititing. It’s embedded in the description of the class of felonies being referred to, and it means other than the person who would commit the felony, i.e. other than the hitman.