United States v. Thomas Case Brief

Why is the case important?

Defendants had intercourse with a corpse believing the girl to be alive. Defendants contested the charge of attempted rape based on factual or alternatively legal impossibility assertion.

Facts of the case


Whether Defendants can be found guilty of attempted rape when it was a factually and legally impossible to actually commit the crime.


Reversed, the fact that the victim was already dead is no bar to a charge of attempted rape.
It is not an attempt when every act intended b the accused could be completed without committing an offense, even though the accused may at the time believe his is committing a crime.



  • Case Brief: 1960
  • Petitioner: United States
  • Respondent: Thomas
  • Decided by: Warren Court

Citation: 362 US 58 (1960)
Argued: Feb 23 – 24, 1960
Decided: Feb 29, 1960