While some crimes are closely related to other crimes, they are not always the same crime. This means that even though one type of crime may be similar to a more serious crime, it should not be viewed as the same crime. The legal term for a crime less serious than a similar, but more serious, crime is a“lesser related offense.”
Better Understanding “Lesser Related Offenses”
To more clearly comprehend “lesser related offenses,” one must understand that crimes consists of key components, known as “elements.” If an individual is found guilty of each “element” encompassed in a certain crime, then he or she is convicted for committing that crime. To be charged, and then later convicted, for the possession of marijuana in the State of California, for example, that individual must be guilty of the “elements” of that particular crime. The two “elements” for the crime of the possession of marijuana are: being found and proven to have been in possession of marijuana, and having been found in possession of marijuana, unlawfully and knowingly. The crime could be considered a “lesser related offense” in California, if only one of the “elements” for the possession of marijuana were met. Perhaps, the marijuana was put in the defendant’s vehicle by a co-worker, and he or she had no idea it was there. This individual would not be convicted in a California court of the true crime of the possession of marijuana then because both of the “elements” of the crime were not met.The individual was found in possession of marijuana, but it was proven by a criminal defense lawyer in court that the possession was not done knowingly.
Another Example of a “Lesser Related Offense”
To better understand a “lesser related offense,” consider the following example. Suppose a young man decides to throw a brick in the window of a music store in California. While this person was caught by the police, throwing the brick, he did not go inside the business. Therefore, nothing was stolen from inside. This incident may look like burglary. What happened is closely related to burglary, but it is, in fact, not the same crime. Why? This is because not all of the “elements” of burglary were met. The young man did break the building’s window and may or may not have had the intent to steal, but since he never actually entered the building, he should not be convicted of burglary. What crime should he be charged with in the State of California? In this case, the individual may be charged with vandalism, and it could be considered as a “lesser related offense” to burglary. He, therefore, could be convicted of vandalism if he is found guilty of all the elements of the crime: acting maliciously; defacing, damaging, or destroying property; and doing so to property that did not belong to him.
A “Lesser Included Offense”
It is important to note a “lesser related offense” is not the same as a “lesser included offense.” A “lesser included offense” is a crime within a crime. This means that the less serious crime is a component of the more serious crime. Often, the greater crime will include all of the “elements” of the lesser crime, as well as an additional “element” or ”elements.”