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If a suspect supplies a known fraudulent prescription and a police officer orders the pharmacist to fill it, does the factual impossibility defense apply for the suspect? This act was impossible to complete without the police officer.

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    The act might have been impossible to complete without the police officer, but the police officer was in fact present, so the crime was in fact committed.
    – phoog
    Dec 1, 2015 at 7:06
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    Isn't impossibility only a defense for attempt? If you committed a crime, it clearly wasn't impossible.
    – cpast
    Dec 1, 2015 at 9:32
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    In what way did the instrument fail?
    – phoog
    Dec 1, 2015 at 13:40
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    @Breakskater That's like saying that if you try to shoot someone but you miss, you're not guilty of attempted murder. The fact that a criminal is bad at crime doesn't mean it's impossible.
    – cpast
    Dec 1, 2015 at 15:30
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    @Breakskater Did they commit the actual crime (excuses and justifications aside, did they literally do the thing prohibited by the law)? Then it was obviously not impossible. Impossibility means something cannot be done. It doesn't mean "can't be done without a police reverse sting," it means "cannot be done at all." It refers to things like attempted murder with a voodoo doll.
    – cpast
    Dec 2, 2015 at 1:17

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For the record, factual impossibility is rarely a defense to a crime. In United States v. Thomas the court decided that men who believed they were raping a drunken unconscious women were guilty of attempted rape, even though the woman was dead at the time.

In this case there is no facts that made the offense impossible to commit. The suspect clearly submitted a false prescription and obtained the drugs he or she wished to obtain. There is no impossibility. Instead the police officer, as the saying goes, has the suspect "dead to rights".

This is not legal advice. Consult an attorney for that.

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