Murder (United States law)

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Under the laws of the United States of America, the crime of Murder can fall under different jurisdictions. In some cases, the state prosecutes those accused of murder. In other cases, the federal government has jurisdiction. Who the victim of a murder is can also determine who has jurisdiction. The military of the United States also prosecutes murder under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Jurisdiction[change | change source]

If a murder is committed within the borders of a state, that state has jurisdiction. If the crime is committed in the District of Columbia, the D.C Superior Court has jurisdiction. In cases involving federal property or employees, the federal courts may have exclusive jurisdiction.[1] The prosecution of murder is similar in Australia.

If the victim is a federal official, an ambassador, consul or other foreign official under US protection, then the federal government has jurisdiction. If the crime took place on federal property or involved crossing state lines it is under federal jurisdiction. Murder on naval or U.S. flagged merchant vessels in international waters is under federal jurisdiction. This is true also if crime happens on U.S. military bases worldwide. Murder by a member of the United States military anywhere in the world is a violation of Article 118 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The trial is held by a general court-martial.

Dual sovereignty[change | change source]

In the United States the dual sovereignty doctrine applies to murder as well as to other crimes.[2] In cases where a murder involves both state and federal jurisdiction, the accused can be tried and punished separately by each jurisdiction. Under the dual sovereignty doctrine this is not considered double jeopardy.[3] If another federal law was violated in connection with a murder, then the murder can be prosecuted by a federal court.[4] This is called "piggyback jurisdiction".[4] In the United States there is no statute of limitations on the crime of murder.[5] But most other federal laws have a five-year statute of limitations.[5] An exception is for cases of terrorism where the statute of limitations is eight years.[5] Or if explosives or arson were involved, the statute of limitations is ten years.[5]

References[change | change source]

  1. "Title 18 - Crimes and Criminal Procedure: 2010 US Code: US Codes and Statutes: US Law: Justia". Law.justia.com. 2011-01-07. Retrieved 2012-12-18.
  2. Robert Matz, 'Dual Sovereignty and the Double Jeopardy Clause', Fordham Urban Law Journal, Volume 24, Issue 2 (1996), Article 4
  3. Koon v. United States, 518 U.S. 81 (1996)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Edmund G. Brown; Louis B. Schwartz, 'New Federal Code is Submitted', ABA Journal, Vol. 56 (September 1970), p. 847
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Charles Doyle, The USA Patriot Act Reader (New York: Novinka Books, 2005), p. 69

Other websites[change | change source]