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Law School Case Brief

State v. Blechman - 135 N.J.L. 99, 50 A.2d 152 (1946)

Rule:

At common law, it is a misdemeanor for one to counsel, incite, or solicit another to commit either a felony or a misdemeanor, certainly so if the misdemeanor is of an aggravated character, even though the solicitation is of no effect, and the crime counseled is not in fact committed. The gist of the offense is the solicitation. It is not requisite that some act should be laid to have been done in pursuance of the incitement. While the bare intention to commit evil is not indictable, without an act done, the solicitation, itself, is an act done toward the execution of the evil intent and therefore indictable. An act done with a criminal intent is punishable by indictment.

Facts:

Defendant Samuel Blechman counseled another named George Polos to set fire to a certain dwelling house in the City of Hackensack, with intent to prejudice and defraud the insurers thereof against loss or damage by fire, in contravention of R.S. 2:109-4. Polos never burned the house. Subsequently, defendant was charged with, and convicted of violating the aforementioned statute. Defendant challenged his conviction.

Issue:

Could defendant be held liable for counseling a person to burn a house, notwithstanding the fact that such person did not act upon defendant’s advice?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court held that the solicitation itself was an act done toward the execution of the evil intent and was therefore indictable because an act done with a criminal intent was punishable by indictment. The court held that the solicitation constituted a substantive crime in itself, and not an abortive attempt to perpetrate the crime solicited. The court held that the state's evidence regarding defendant's intent to defraud the insurance company was irrelevant, so long as the solicitation itself was established. Accordingly, the court affirmed defendant's conviction.

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