When Does Murder Become A Federal Crime?

According to the United States Constitution, criminal law is left to be handled by the individual States where the crime was committed. So for example, let’s say you kill someone in Florida and are caught, you will be tried under Florida’s criminal laws.

But did you know that there are 10 specific cases in which committing murder can be seen as a federal offense and therefore ultimately be tried in a federal court? Not that we condone murder in any way but here’s how murder becomes a federal crime:

  1. Murdering An Elected/Appointed Official Of The Federal Government – this includes the President, Vice-President, Congressman, Senators, Cabinet Members or Supreme Court Justice.
  2. Murdering A Federal Jude or Law Enforcement Official – this includes any judge servicing on the federal court as well as law enforcement officials like the FBI, CIA, DEA, etc.
  3. Murdering An Immediate Family Member of A Law Enforcement Official – you cannot threaten a law enforcement to drop their investigation by murdering their family.
  4. Murdering Someone With The Intent Of Influencing The Outcome Of A Court Case – you cannot kill jurors, witnesses, police informants or officers to help win your court case. It’s also a federal crime to kill someone in response to their testimony.
  5. Murdering Someone During A Bank Robbery – since bank robbery in itself is a federal crime, if someone is killed (civilian, security guard, etc) the criminal will be brought up on a federal murder charge.
  6. Murdering A Child With Ties To Rape, Child Molestation or Sexual Exploitation – if you have sexually abused a child and they are killed because of it or you murder them afterward that will lead you to a federal murder charge. 
  7. Murdering Someone Aboard A Ship – maritime law is tricky because the ocean is considered multinational but since you are crossing multiple state lines in some cases it becomes a part of interstate travel which is under Federal Jurisdiction.
  8. Murdering Someone For Drug Related Reasons – due to the country’s War on Drugs, drug related offenses have higher punishments and are prosecuted under federal laws.
  9. Murdering Someone Due To A Contract (Communicated Through Internet/Cell Phone) – since cell phone towers and internet lines cross state lines this falls under Federal Jurisdiction.
  10. Murdering Someone Due To A Contract (Communicated By Mail) – same reason as above.

For the record, MURDER IS A CRIME! We do not want anyone to commit these heinous acts. But in some situations, it becomes a federal crime where the punishment and sentencing are much more severe than if being tried in a state court. We are bringing these up in the event you watch Crime Dramas, you can impress all your friends and family with your knowledge of Federal Law.