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Overview of Federal Laws About Murder

Murder is when a person is killed by another without any valid justification and with evil intent or malice. Murder is a type of homicide. While other forms of homicide, like manslaughter, involve killing without malice or because of provocation, murder is considered an evil and cruel act. Murder is a serious offense worldwide. Murder would invite severe punishment that includes the death sentence or life imprisonment.

Murder Arrest Records
Murder Arrest Records

Federal Laws Related to Murder

Murder is a criminal offense that is usually prosecuted as per state laws. There are situations that would call for federal laws to be applied. The federal law for murder is contained in 18 US Code Chapter 51 on Homicide.

As per Section 1111 of Chapter 51, Murder has been defined as an unlawful killing of another human. This form of killing involves malice, which is hatred or cruelty. As per federal law, anyone who commits murder in the maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the USA is liable to be punished by the provisions of this act.

Murder has been classified under two categories as per this law. Murder in the first degree is the killing of a person that involves any of the following:

  • Killing that is premeditated and planned
  • Poisoning
  • Killing that happens while committing an offense like arson, kidnapping, treason, sabotage, sexual abuse, child abuse, or burglary
  • Due to torture of a child

All other types of murder are classified as murder in the second degree.

The law states that anyone who commits murder in the first degree shall be punishable by death or imprisonment for life. A person committing murder in the second degree is punishable by life imprisonment or for any term as decided by the judge.

Attempt to commit murder is also a crime under the federal law. Anyone convicted for attempted murder shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a period not exceeding twenty years with/without a fine.

The law states that anyone who assists another to kill or attempt to kill an officer of the United States government or related agency who is carrying out official duties shall also be punishable along with the perpetrator of the offense.

The federal law makes a special provision to indicate that anyone who kills or attempts to kill an official guest of the country or a foreign official, including the head of a foreign country, or any internationally protected person shall be guilty of murder or attempted murder as per this law. The law specifies that for the enforcement of this section, the US Attorney general may seek the assistance of the armed forces.

The federal law outlines the provisions for conspiracy to murder. Conspiracy involving murder or attempt to murder is an offense as per the law. Anyone committing this offense shall be punished by imprisonment, which may be for a specific term of years or for life.

When a person who has been sentenced to life imprisonment and is housed in a federal jail commits murder, then that person shall be punished with life imprisonment or death.

When a citizen of the United States murders or attempts to murder another US citizen in any place outside the US, even then the provisions of this law shall be applicable. Prosecution shall be carried out only on approval from the Attorney General.

The law has a provision related to the killing of a law enforcement official of a state working along with federal officials. When such a killing happens during the performance of official duties, then the offender shall be sentenced to life imprisonment or to death.

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