When the police accuse you of a crime, more than one charge could be in question. In this situation, you need to ensure you have a plan to take action immediately to protect your rights. Major consequences can apply if you’re convicted of multiple crimes, so you need to be prepared to respond appropriately.
If you have been accused of a crime, you may have a question about a lesser included offense. This may also be referred to as a necessarily included offense. This refers to a crime that is categorized within a greater crime, meaning that you could not commit the bigger offense without committing the lesser. Courts have used three different tests to determine whether or not one crime is necessarily included within another.
The first is the pleadings test. Some courts will look at the way that the charging document describes the charge against the defendant. If an indictment, for example, says that a murder occurred by stabbing, then assault with a deadly weapon would be a likely lesser included offense. The second test is known as the evidence test which looks not at the charging document but at the prosecution’s evidence directly. And the third and final test is known as the elements test, and it is the most popular approach used by the prosecution. Rather than looking at the evidence or the charging document, it considers only the definitions of the crimes when standing on their own.
A lesser included offense may be included in your criminal allegations as a fall back plan for prosecutors to ensure that they have a strong chance of obtaining at least some type of conviction even on the lesser included offense when they bring your case to trial. Being charged with multiple crimes can increase your chances of serious consequences on conviction. This is why you need a criminal defense attorney who has extensive experience in the field and is comfortable protecting you not just against the greater offense but against the lesser included offenses as well. A savvy attorney will be able to negotiate potential plea bargains for you and protect your interests going forward.