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Is Murder a Federal Crime?
Most of the time, murder is a state crime that is prosecuted in Texas state court. However, there are some circumstances when murder is a federal crime that will be tried in federal court and subject to federal sentencing.
An experienced federal murder defense lawyer will consider all possible murder defenses for you.
The Challenge of Federal Criminal Defense
When you face charges in the federal criminal justice system, nothing is more important than hiring a murder defense lawyer who has federal criminal defense experience, especially in a murder trial. By the time you find out you face federal charges, preparation to prosecute you may be well underway and your case may have already been thoroughly investigated. The procedure moves quickly, and you need a murder defense lawyer who is familiar with the federal court and can quickly build a good defense.
At Heath Hyde Law Firm, Heath has 30 years of experience in the federal and criminal legal system. As a former prosecutor, Heath knows what the other side is looking for and how to properly defend you.
The Federal Crime of Murder
According to 18 U.S.C. §1111, “murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought.” An individual may be charged with murder if the alleged killing violated federal law.
Some alleged murders are tried as federal crimes because of the victim’s identity. These crimes include the murder of a(n):
- Elected or appointed federal government official. These officials include members of the executive branch of government, such as the President, Vice-President, and cabinet members, members of the legislative branch, including United States representatives and senators, and members of the judicial branch, including Supreme Court justices.
- Federal judge or law enforcement officer. It is also a federal crime to murder a federal U.S. appeals court judge, district court judge, or law enforcement officer such as an F.B.I. officer, United States marshal, or D.E.A. agent.
- Immediate family member of a federal law enforcement officer. The murder of a close relative of a federal law enforcement officer is also a federal crime.
Other alleged murders are tried as federal crimes because of the circumstances in which they happened, such as:
- A murder committed to try to influence the outcome of a federal court case.
This crime includes killing court officers and jurors. It also includes killing police informants and witnesses to prevent testimony or in retaliation for providing testimony.
- A murder committed during a bank robbery. Bank robberies are federal crimes. The United States government may pursue federal murder charges if someone such as a bank employee or customer is killed during a bank robbery.
- A murder related to rape, child molestation, or the sexual exploitation of children. Rape, sexual abuse, and sexual exploitation of minor children are federal crimes. Therefore, any murder committed during the occurrence of these crimes is a federal crime.
- Drug-related murders. Drug violence may be a federal crime and any murder that occurs may be tried as a federal murder.
Finally, some alleged murders are tried as federal crimes because of where they occurred. These crimes include:
- Murders on ships. United States maritime law makes it a federal crime to commit a murder on a ship or to commit a crime that results in someone’s death if that crime threatened the safe travel of the vessel within U.S. waters.
- Murders for hire. Interstate commerce is a federal issue. If the murder occurred by crossing state lines or using communication methods, including telephones, mail, or internet, then a murder for hire could be a federal murder crime.
- Murders by mail. Federal law prohibits using the postal service to send deadly agents, such as poisons or explosives.
Depending on the unique facts of the case, a federal murder may be tried as a first-degree murder case or a second-degree murder case. If the government convicts you of first-degree murder, you may face life in prison or the death penalty. The potential consequences for second-degree murder include many years in jail, up to life imprisonment.
A federal murder charge does not mean that you will be convicted of murder.
Sometimes, the government gets it wrong.
Some possible defenses include:
- The killing was an accident and you did not act with the intent to kill or to commit another federal crime (such as a bank robbery)
- You acted in self-defense
- You acted by reason of insanity
- You weren’t the one who committed the crime
Murder Defense Lawyer
An experienced federal murder defense lawyer will consider all possible defenses for you. Call us for a free consultation at 903.439.0000 as soon as you can so that we can begin gathering evidence, making sure your procedural and constitutional rights are protected, negotiating with federal prosecutors, and advising you on your legal options.
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Why Hire Heath Hyde?
Named 100 Top Trial Lawyers in the United States & “Rising Star” in Dallas’s D Magazine
Tried the largest healthcare fraud case to go to trial in the United States
Handled federal cases nationwide & represented clients in 53 different counties in Texas
Connected with a team of specialists that can handle any criminal issue throughout the country
Get Started on Your Case Today
Heath represents clients in all stages of federal investigations, from initial notice to trial and appeal. Most clients approach Heath in times of crisis, typically after being notified of a criminal investigation or an indictment. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Experienced Federal Criminal Defense attorney at Heath Hyde for a free consultation 24/7.