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Can federal charges lead to a death sentence if convicted?

The last time an inmate was executed for engaging in federal crimes was in 2003. However, the death penalty is still a possibility if a defendant receives a conviction on federal charges. Not all of these crimes result in the death penalty, but if you are facing federal charges, it is wise to learn what is at stake should a conviction occur.

Below you will find only a partial list of the federal crimes for which a defendant might receive a sentence involving capital punishment.

  • Murder of a federal law enforcement officer
  • Murder of a judge with the Supreme Court
  • Murder of a member of congress
  • Murder of a foreign prisoner
  • Murder during a hostage crisis or a kidnapping
  • Murder via weapons of mass destruction (bombs, biological weapons, etc.)

As you can see, federal charges involving the loss of life is one of the main reasons a defendant may be sentenced to death. However, it is not the only federal crimes that could result in this harshest of sentences. Other crimes that may lead to a death sentence include:

  • Espionage, which involves the use of clandestine activities to acquire secret political or military information
  • Treason, which involves engaging in subversive actions that undermine the federal government
  • Intent to kill by mailing dangerous materials, even if death did not occur

Why is this information important to defendants facing federal charges in Pennsylvania? In 2019, the federal government announced its intent to resume the federal death penalty. This means that it is more important than ever to protect yourself against federal charges. Creating a strong defense with an experienced criminal law attorney may allow you to escape conviction for federal crimes. In turn, this will take the death penalty out of the equation. Even if you are not facing a possible death sentence, an attorney can help with your case.

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Phone: 412-342-8000
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