Inchoate offences relate to the steps in the direction of the commission of another crime. These steps also referred to as attempts are made in preparation for doing a crime and for that are considered crimes (Schmalleger et. al, 2010). Though generally for criminal liability to accrue the intent and the act must take place, these attempts constitute criminal conduct thus the liability attaches. The justification is that harm would have occurred had the crime materialized thus punishment serves to prevent the occurrence of the harm.
On the other hand, parties to a crime relate to the principle that a person can be criminally accountable for the actions of another if they take part in the commission of the crime. In such case, the law looks at the crime holistically and makes little distinction as to the part each individual played. Though at common law there was such distinction, presently many states have abolished such distinction especially where the parties were well aware of the crime. The only distinction present is that of the person who actually does the act, referred to as the principal and the one who assists, known as the accomplice. The justification is that whatever part played contributed to the entire crime which caused harm and for such harm punishment must accrue.
The common principle in these crimes is that criminal liability may attach even where a person has not committed the physical act. The justification is that as long as the intent results or would likely result to a crime, then criminal liability will arise. For liability to accrue for an inchoate crime, two conditions have to be met. One, the intent or mental preparation and two a substantial effort aimed at the commission of the projected crime. The mental preparation is the specific intent to do the crime. On its part, substantial effort is determined in terms of proximity, whether the act was near to completion or whether the intended victim of the crime had a reasonable apprehension of harm or the extent of the projected harm.
In relation to parties to a crime, for liability to attach to an accomplice, it must be shown that the accomplice assisted the principal intentionally. In establishing whether the assistance was intentional, it must be demonstrated that the accomplice intended to do the actions that gave the assistance and that by those actions, the accomplice intended to contribute to the commission of the crime. Essentially then, if the accomplice intentionally does something that contributes to the crime, then they would be liable. Thus for instance the act of voluntarily availing plans or acting as a look out amount to crime, while if the same are done under compulsion, then criminal liability would not attach.
Schmalleger, F., Hall, D. E. & Dolatowski, J. J. (2010). Criminal law today (4th ed.).
Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Learning. Print.