Stages of Crime under Indian Penal Code,1860

Stages of Crime

A crime is an illegal Act punished with the aid of using the state or any lawful authority . A crime or an offence is an act which isn’t most effective dangerous to man or woman however to the network and state as whole. Such acts are forbidden with the aid of using law.

According to Stephen- Crime is an act not only punishable by law but is also revolting to the moral sentiments of the society.
Every crime violates the law but every violation of the law does not commit a crime .

Under the Indian Penal Code there are set of norms of human behaviour and forbids the human conduct that unjustified exhibits disrespect or inflicts or threatens substantial harm to individual.

There are four Stages which must be present for the Commission of crime –

1. Intention

This is the first stage of crime which is also known as mental stage of crime . This stage takes place when the culprit first entertains the idea or intension to commit an offence. The law does not take cognizance as mere entertaining an idea or intension is too early a stage to make a person punishable given the fact , there is enough scope and time for a person to change his mind and not give effect to his idea or intension.

The term men’s rea is a legal phrase used to describe the mental stage of person while doing any act, some intension is there. A mere intension to commit a crime is not punishable because it is very difficult for the court prosecution to prove the guilty intension of a person and the court is also unwilling in punishing a person for mere guilty intension. In Indian criminal law , there are various exceptions under which intention is to commit a crime as they have been considered to be serious offences and mere preparation of it is punishable as it is to be checked at the earliest stage . They are –

  • Waging war against the government under section 121 to 123 of Indian Penal Code.
  • ‘Sedition’ under section 124 A of Indian Penal Code.
  • Under section 292 of the Indian Penal Code, criminal liability can be imposed on the person dealing with selling , hiring, distributing the obscene books.
  • The person who have been engaged in the ‘Criminal Conspiracy’ specified under section 120 A of Indian Penal Code shall be liable to be punished although he has not himself committed the impugned act.

Intension can be further divided into two parts :-

• Direct Intent
• Oblique intent

2. Preparation-

The preparation is the second stage in the commission of a crime. This is the stage where main objective is to arrange all the measures required for execution of the intentional criminal act. Generally , it not punishable because it is impossible to show that preparation was directed towards the wrongful end or was done with evil intent or mind. The existing laws allow a principle of ‘ Lous Poenitantae’ which means an ‘ opportunity to repent’.

Reasons for not making Preparation Punishable

Generally , there are various reasons because of which preparation is not considered as punishable under Indian Criminal law . They are as following :-

1. Preparation apart from its motive is generally an harmless act.

2. It would be impossible in most cases to show that preparation was directed to wrongful end or was done with an evil motive or intent. Therefore, if preparations were punishable it would cause unnecessary harassment to innocent persons as there is a locus Poenitantae’ and doer may have changed his mind .

3. Mere preparation does not and cannot ordinarily affect the sense of security of the individual to be wronged nor would the society be disturbed as to rouse its sense of vengeance .
Example :- If a purchase of pistol and keeps the same in his pocket duly loaded in order to kill his better enemy B, but does nothing more. A has not committed any offence as still he is at the stage of preparation and it will be impossible for the prosecution to prove that A was carrying the loaded pistol only for the purpose of killing B.

3. Attempt

The attempt is third stage in commission of crime . An attempt , marks a distinct advance on the development of criminality , so that it is punishable everywhere. Indian penal code does not define attempt.

The supreme court in Arun Kumar V. Star of Haryana explained the necessity to punish the offence of attempt . It observed that ;
An attempt is made punishable , because every attempt , although it falls short of success , must create alarm , which by itself is an injury , and the moral guilt of the offender is same as if he had succeed. Moral act must be united to injury in order to justify punishment. As the injury is not as great as if the act had been committed , only half the punishment is awarded.

Ingredients of the Attempt –

• Guilty intension to commit an offence.
• Some act done towards the commitment of the crime.
• The act must fall short of the completed offence.

4. Accomplishment –

This is the last , the final stage in commission of crime. Generally , most of the crimes are punishable only after the crime has been committed. If the accused commits an attempt to commit the crime and such attempt succeeds , he will be liable for the offence . If such an attempt is unsuccessful , he will be liable for the attempt to commit the offence.
If a person keeps a gun with an intend to murder his enemy but keeps the same in the pocket . He would not be guilty at this stage. He would only be culpable after he either make a direct attempt towards the actual murder or actually commits the murder.


Thus it may be concluded that a criminal offense isn’t simply associate act or omission that may be a standalone act however there are many stages which are concerned within the commission of offense. Law does not criminalize all the stages of the crime but it punishes when the offence is complete.

For the commission of Crime by person involves four stages that are formation of the intention or mental element, preparation for commission of Crime , acting on the basis of preparation, vision of the act resulting in an event processing prescribed by law.

Author: Kajal Bind,
Prayag Vidhi Mahavidyalaya (Allahabad State University) 2nd year BA.LLB

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