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When Is Murder Charged as a Federal Crime?

Posted on in Federal Crimes

Fort Worth federal criminal defense attorney

Under Texas law, a person commits criminal homicide if he or she intentionally or negligently causes the death of another individual. Criminal homicide is considered murder when the offender knowingly causes the death of the individual, causes death while intentionally causing serious bodily harm, or causes the death of the individual during the commission of a felony. Depending on the facts of the case, murder may be charged as a first-degree or second-degree felony offense in Texas. However, there are some situations in which murder may also be considered a federal crime

Circumstances in Which the Federal Government Prosecutes Murder Cases

Most federal murder charges result from murders involving drug trafficking or weapons trafficking, or attacks on U.S. government officials. Deaths resulting from certain crimes against children may also result in federal murder charges. Murder is typically a federal criminal offense if:

  • The individual who was killed is a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent, or other federal law enforcement official  

  • The underlying felony that led to the victim’s death is felony sexual assault

  • The murder is related to the interstate transportation of child pornography

  • A family member of a federal law enforcement official was killed in retaliation or as an attempt to influence a federal investigation

  • The murder was intended to prevent an individual from testifying at a court case

  • The person who was killed is a U.S. Senator, Congressman, Supreme Court Justice, or another high-ranking government official

  • The killing occurred during a bank robbery

  • The victim’s death was the result of a murder-for-hire scheme involving interstate travel or phone, mail, or Internet communications

Penalties for a Federal Murder Conviction May Include Execution

Murder in the first or second degree is punishable by up to life in prison in Texas. Capital murder is punishable by the death penalty under Texas law as well as federal law. The first capital punishment carried out by the U.S. federal government occurred in 1790. Federal executions were paused for a period of time but have now been re-established. On September 24, 2020, Christopher Andre Vialva was executed as punishment for a 1999 double murder in Texas.

Contact a Plano, Texas Federal Crimes Attorney

Criminal defendants, including those charged with murder, are innocent until proven guilty. In addition, they have a Constitutional right to legal representation. If you or a loved one has been accused of murder, do not speak to police without your attorney present. Attorney Darlina Crowders at The Crowder Law Firm P.C. has secured over 200 not-guilty verdicts and acquittals. Call our office today at 214-303-9600 to schedule a free consultation with an accomplished Collin County criminal defense lawyer from our firm. 

 

Sources:
https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/PE/htm/PE.19.htm
https://www.texastribune.org/2020/09/24/federal-death-penalty-christopher-vialva/

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