What Federal Crimes Can Lead To The Death Penalty?
Few criminal sanctions are more serious than the death penalty and, fortunately, it is rare that capital punishment is the sentence for someone convicted of a federal crime. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, just 45 individuals are currently on death row and only 13 people were executed by lethal injection during the six-month period from July to December 2020. In Florida, there are two prisoners who were sentenced to capital punishment for federal crimes – as separate from individuals who face the death penalty for violating state criminal statutes.
Generally speaking, capital punishment is reserved for the most serious homicide cases; however, there are some federal laws that impose the death penalty even when no killing took place. It is critical to reach out to a Fort Lauderdale federal crimes defense lawyer right away if you are facing charges for:
Civil Rights Violations
Capital punishment is a possible sentence for interfering, depriving, or obstructing someone’s rights under the US Constitution and related civil rights laws. You could be sentenced to death if your actions cause a fatality, but also in cases where the civil rights violation is accompanied by:
- Aggravated sexual abuse;
- Attempts to kidnap, commit aggravated sexual abuse, or kill.
Spying and Espionage
Another federal crime that does not involve a death but DOES encompass the death penalty is handing over information during a foreign government. The sentence would apply to anyone who engages in spying during times of war or in the context of a large scale attack, nuclear weapons, military spacecraft, communications and intelligence, or other defense strategies.
Crimes Involving Explosives
You could face the federal death penalty for transporting or receiving explosives, but there is an element of specific intent with his offense. The prosecutor must prove that you knew or intended that the explosives will be used to kill, injure, or intimidate a person – or to unlawfully damage or destroy property.
Various Murder Charges
Any premeditated killing of a human being could trigger the death penalty, but federal criminal laws include capital punishment for some specific offenses. For example, a judge could consider the death penalty for such homicide crimes as:
- Assassination of certain members of the federal government and candidates for office;
- Violence that causes death at an international airport;
- Destruction of a vehicle that leads to death;
- Bringing in or harboring an alien that results in death;
- Murder through use of armor-piercing ammunition;
- Use of interstate commerce in the commission of a murder-for-hire scheme;
- Murder to further a racketeering crime; and
- Killing someone in connection with an attack on mass transportation.
You Can Rely on a South Florida Federal Crimes Criminal Defense Lawyer
This is just a short list of federal crimes for which a judge could sentence someone to be executed, but keep in mind that the punishment is still extreme. If you were arrested for a crime that could lead to the death penalty or other serious sanctions, please contact attorney Kevin J. Kulik in Fort Lauderdale, FL. We can set up a consultation to review your circumstances and discuss defense strategies.