Gentry v. State

Decision Date01 September 1983
Docket NumberNo. 62973,62973
Citation437 So.2d 1097
PartiesSamuel Isaiah GENTRY, Petitioner, v. STATE of Florida, Respondent.
CourtFlorida Supreme Court

Jerry Hill, Public Defender and Michael E. Raiden, Asst. Public Defender, Tenth Judicial Circuit, Bartow, for petitioner.

Jim Smith, Atty. Gen., and Charles Corces, Jr., Tampa, and C. Andrew Thomas, Tallahassee, Asst. Attys. Gen., for respondent.

SHAW, Justice.

The petitioner seeks review of a district court of appeal opinion holding that voluntary intoxication is not a defense to the charge of attempted second-degree murder. Gentry v. State, 422 So.2d 1072 (Fla. 2d DCA 1982). The case was certified to this Court as being in direct conflict with Worthey v. State, 395 So.2d 1210 (Fla. 3d DCA 1981), which states by way of a footnote that all attempts are necessarily specific intent crimes regardless of whether the specific intent is a necessary element of the completed offense. We exercise discretionary jurisdiction pursuant to article V, section 3(b)(4) of the Florida Constitution.

In its well-reasoned opinion, the Second District Court of Appeal analyzed Worthey and other Florida cases which imply that all attempts are specific intent crimes and found that such statements either were obiter dicta or were made in cases where the underlying offense itself required proof of specific intent. Adams v. Murphy, 394 So.2d 411 (Fla.1981); Worthey; * Littles v. State, 384 So.2d 744 (Fla. 1st DCA 1980); Hutchinson v. State, 315 So.2d 546 (Fla. 2d DCA 1975); Groneau v. State, 201 So.2d 599 (Fla. 4th DCA 1967).

Within recent months the district courts of appeal have grappled with this issue and extremely able judges have reached diametrically opposed positions. One school of thought rejects the notion that there can ever be an attempt without a specific intent, reasoning that one cannot attempt to do something without first forming the specific intent to accomplish that particular act. This position is consistent with our commonly-accepted definition of attempt: a specific intent to commit the crime and an overt act, beyond mere preparation, done towards the commission. The intent and the act must be such that they would have resulted in the completed crime except for the interference of some cause preventing the carrying out of the intent. Adams; Turner v. State, 100 Fla. 1078, 130 So. 617 (Fla.1930); Gustine v. State, 86 Fla. 24, 97 So. 207 (Fla.1923). The opposing school of thought emphasizes the illogic of requiring the state to prove an intent for successful prosecution of an attempt to commit a crime when no such degree of proof is necessary for successful prosecution of the completed crime.

The question then is whether these two seemingly opposing concepts can be harmonized and brought into conformity with some recognizable legislative intent. We have previously determined that despite the broad language of our attempt statute, there are certain crimes of which it can be said that the attempt thereof simply does not exist as an offense. Adams; State v. Thomas, 362 So.2d 1348 (Fla.1978). See also King v. State, 317 So.2d 852 (Fla. 1st DCA 1975). We now hold that there are offenses that may be successfully prosecuted as an attempt without proof of a specific intent to commit the relevant completed offense. The key to recognizing these crimes is to first determine whether the completed offense is a crime requiring specific intent or general intent. If the state is not required to show specific intent to successfully prosecute the completed crime, it will not be required to show specific intent to successfully prosecute an attempt to commit that crime. We believe there is logic in this approach and that it comports with legislative intent. Second-degree and third-degree murder under our statutes are crimes requiring only general intent.

In the instant case, the appellant, while allegedly in a drunken state, swore at his father, choked him, snapped a pistol several times to his head and when the weapon failed...

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43 cases
  • Rodriguez v. State
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • December 22, 1983
    ...law. II. Although one cannot attempt to do an unintentional act, Williams v. State, 41 Fla. 295, 26 So. 184 (1899); but see Gentry v. State, 437 So.2d 1097 (Fla.1983), manslaughter embraces both intentional (voluntary) killings, 4see W. LaFave & A. Scott, Criminal Law §§ 75-77 (1972); 2 C. ......
  • United States v. Hernandez-Montes
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit
    • July 25, 2016
    ...to the overwhelming majority of jurisdictions in this country, I question the reasons that this Court initially relied upon to formulate the Gentry[15 ]test. The Gentry court argued that the State should not be required to prove an intent for a successful prosecution of an attempt to commit......
  • Brown v. State
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • October 5, 2000
    ...second-degree murder does not require proof of the specific intent to commit the underlying act (i.e., murder). See Gentry v. State, 437 So.2d 1097 (Fla.1983). In Gentry, we held that the crime of attempted second-degree murder does not require proof of the specific intent to kill. Although......
  • Fla. Dep't of Corr. v. Gould
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • June 10, 2022
    ...but falling short of execution of the ultimate design." Gustine v. State, 86 Fla. 24, 97 So. 207, 208 (1923) ; see also Gentry v. State, 437 So. 2d 1097, 1098 (Fla. 1983) (noting "our commonly-accepted definition of attempt: a specific intent to commit the crime and an overt act, beyond mer......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
4 books & journal articles
  • Judicial Exploitation of Mens Rea Confusion, at Common Law and Under the Model Penal Code
    • United States
    • Georgia State University College of Law Georgia State Law Reviews No. 18-2, December 2001
    • Invalid date
    ...for attempted murder is no greater than the mens rea for murder. See Brady, 745 So. 2d at 957 (discussing with approval Gentry v. State, 437 So. 2d 1097 (Fla. 1983)). [218]. See also Commonwealth v. Woodard, 694 N.E.2d 1277 (Mass. 1998) (affirming the trial judge's reduction of verdict from......
  • § 27.05 Mens Rea of Criminal Attempts
    • United States
    • Carolina Academic Press Understanding Criminal Law (CAP) 2022 Title Chapter 27 Attempt
    • Invalid date
    ...murder).[68] State v. Hawkins, 631 So. 2d 1288, 1290 (La. Ct. App. 1994). [69] Enker, Note 62, supra, at 855.[70] Gentry v. State, 437 So. 2d 1097, 1098 (Fla. 1983).[71] This is the rule in Colorado. See the Colorado cites in Note 67, supra.[72] Larry Alexander & Kimberly Kessler Ferzan, Cr......
  • § 27.05 MENS REA OF CRIMINAL ATTEMPTS
    • United States
    • Carolina Academic Press Understanding Criminal Law (CAP) 2018 Title Chapter 27 Attempt
    • Invalid date
    ...murder).[68] . State v. Hawkins, 631 So. 2d 1288, 1290 (La. Ct. App. 1994).[69] . Enker, Note 62, supra, at 855.[70] . Gentry v. State, 437 So. 2d 1097, 1098 (Fla. 1983).[71] . This is the rule in Colorado. See the Colorado cites in Note 67, supra.[72] . Larry Alexander & Kimberly Kessler F......
  • TABLE OF CASES
    • United States
    • Carolina Academic Press Understanding Criminal Law (CAP) 2018 Title Table of Cases
    • Invalid date
    ...United States v., 379 F.3d 596 (9th Cir. 2004), 25 Genoa, People v., 470 N.W.2d 447 (Mich. Ct. App. 1991), 437 Gentry v. State, 437 So. 2d 1097 (Fla. 1983), 368 Gentry, People v., 510 N.E.2d 963 (Ill. App. Ct. 1987), 367 Georgia v. Brailsford, 3 U.S. (3 Dall.) 1 (1794), 9 Gilliam, United St......

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