Introduction to Inchoate Offences

Note on Introduction to Inchoate Offences by Legum

Introduction to Inchoate Offences:

What is an Inchoate Offence:

The word “inchoate” comes from the Latin word “inchoare”, which means “to start work on.” The Cambridge dictionary defines “inchoate” as “only recently or partly formed, or not completely developed or clear.”

When an offence is described as “inchoate”, it means the offence is one that is partly formed or not completely developed.

Some Definitions:

The Crown Prosecution Service in the United Kingdom defines an inchoate offence as “instances where a substantive offence may not have been completed but nevertheless an offence of a different kind has been committed because of the actions or agreements in preparation for the substantive offence”.

In its consultation paper on inchoate offences, the Law Reform Commission stated that “inchoate offences criminalise behaviour that is working towards, or leading up to, the completion of a crime.”

The MacMillian Dictionary defines an inchoate offence as “a crime that has not yet been completed, for example, an attempt, incitement, or conspiracy”.

The Rationale for Inchoate Offences:

The primary purpose of inchoate offences is to prevent and deter the commission of substantive offences by punishing conduct that precedes and facilitates their commission. By criminalizing attempts, preparations, and agreements to commit a crime, the law aims to reduce the likelihood of harm to individuals and society at large.

Types of Inchoate Offences in Ghana:

In Ghana, there are four forms of inchoate offences:

1. Attempt to commit a crime, but failed to complete it.

2. Conspiracy or an agreement to commit a crime.

3. Preparation to commit a crime.

4. Abetment.


In conclusion, inchoate offences are an important tool in criminal law to prevent and deter the commission of substantive offences. By criminalizing preparatory conduct, the law aims to reduce the likelihood of harm to individuals and society. In Ghana, attempt, conspiracy, preparation, and abetment are the main forms of inchoate offences, which are discussed in more detail in subsequent notes.