Quimbee logo
DMCA.com Protection Status

Impossibility Defense in Criminal Law

Impossibility Defense in Criminal Law

Definition

A defense to criminal attempt liability. Impossibility may be either factual or legal. Factual impossibility arises if the defendant has a criminal objective, but a fact or circumstance unknown to the defendant would prevent the defendant from completing the target offense. True legal impossibility arises if the defendant's completed act would not have been a crime even if the circumstances were as the defendant believed them to be. A type of hybrid legal impossibility bars liability if the defendant made a factual mistake about the legal status of some necessary element of the crime, i.e., if the defendant would have committed a crime if the circumstances had been as the defendant believed them to be. True legal impossibility may be a viable defense to attempt liability, but neither factual impossibility nor hybrid legal impossibility is an acceptable defense in most jurisdictions.

Get full access FREE

With a 7-Day free trial membership
Here's why 541,000 law students have relied on our key terms:
  • A complete online legal dictionary of law terms and legal definitions
  • Over 6,100 key terms written in plain English to help you not only understand the law but master it
  • The premier online law dictionary built specifically for law students
  • Easy access in class or on the go, accessible both online and through the Quimbee mobile app
  • Reliable - written by legal professors and practitioners
  • Get instant access to all related rules of law to any specific key term with a Quimbee Study Aid plan

Get full access FREE

With a 7-Day free trial membership