The United States Code has several different homicide crimes. 18 U.S.C. §1111 defines the first homicide crime, murder, as the unlawful killing of a human being with “malice aforethought”. Every murder committed by poisoning, lying in wait, or any other kind of willful and premeditated killing, or committed while in the process of committing another felony is murder in the first degree. Any other murder is murder in the second degree.
The term “malice aforethought” is not used to mean hatred of the victim. Rather it is used to mean that the person who committed the homicide did because he desired the person to die, or was indifferent to whether the person lived or died. Malice as used in the federal murder statute is when the defendant intends to kill the person he or she is charged with killing, or if he or she intended to cause the victim serious bodily injury but the victim died. It is also when the person does not care whether the victim lives or dies.
18 U.S.C. §1112 defines manslaughter as the unlawful killing of a human being without malice. Manslaughter is divided into two types. The first type of manslaughter is voluntary manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter is defined as manslaughter taking place in a sudden quarrel, or in the heat of passion. Involuntary manslaughter is defined as in the commission of an unlawful act not amounting to a felony, or in the commission in an unlawful manner, or without due caution and circumspection, of a lawful act which might produce death.
Murder in the first degree is punishable by death or life imprisonment in a federal prison. Murder in the second degree is punishable by up to life imprisonment in a federal prison. Attempt to commit murder under 18 U.S.C. §1113 is punishable by up to twenty years in federal prison. Attempt to commit manslaughter is punishable by up to seven years in federal prison.
The homicide crimes are mostly handled in state courts, but in some situations, murder or manslaughter is a federal crime. It will be a federal crime when a killing is related to drug trafficking, when the incident crosses state borders, or when the killing is considered an attack on the United States government or judicial system. The murder of a federal judge or federal law enforcement officer is a federal crime, as is the killing of immediate family members of federal law enforcement officials. A killing committed during a bank robbery is a federal crime, as is a murder related to rape, child molestation, and sexual exploitation of a child is considered a federal crime.
Murder is obviously a very serious criminal charge. You need a qualified and experienced federal criminal lawyer Arlington TX trusts on your side. Before you talk to the police, call a federal criminal defense who attorney that can advise you. Having an attorney from the very beginning of your case can help greatly.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Brandy Austin Law Firm, P.C. for their insight into criminal defense practice.