18 U.S. Code § 1113 - Attempt to Commit Murder or Manslaughter
A federal charge of attempting to commit murder or manslaughter is a serious matter that leads to severe penalties. Most violent crime charges are prosecuted in local state courts, but there are situations where the government will prosecute this crime, which is codified under 18 U.S.C. 1113.
Attempted murder is the unsuccessful act of killing, but the intent is to kill them. Attempt to commit manslaughter is similar, but it does not involve a plan to kill.
Manslaughter is usually committed through an act of negligence or recklessness. An “attempt” is described as any direct act in furtherance of an intent to kill. Notably, mere preparation to kill is insufficient to satisfy the elements of the crime of attempted murder or manslaughter.
While murder and manslaughter are well documented, what is not frequently discussed is what happens when the crime was “attempted” but unsuccessful, especially at the federal level, which are often high-profile cases.
Homicide is described as the killing of a human, but not all homicides are illegal, such as killing in self-defense. Criminal homicide is the unlawful killing of another person.
18 U.S.C. 1113 says, “Whoever, within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, attempts to commit murder or manslaughter, shall be….”
18 U.S.C. 1111 says, “Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought. Every murder perpetrated by poison, lying in wait, or any other kind of willful, deliberate, malicious, and premeditated killing….”
18 U.S.C. 1112 says, “(a) Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice. It is of two kinds: Voluntary—Upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion. Involuntary—In the commission of an unlawful act not amounting to a felony, in the commission in an unlawful manner, or without due caution and circumspection, of a lawful act which might produce death.”
Several government agencies will investigate and prosecute 18 U.S.C. 1113 cases, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). Let's review the federal-level charges of an attempt to commit murder or manslaughter.
What's the Difference Between Murder and Manslaughter?
To understand 18 U.S.C. 1113 attempting to commit murder or manslaughter, you first need to know what factors constitute murder or manslaughter. Both mean killing someone, but the main difference is the crucial word “intent.”
18 U.S.C. 1111 murder is planned and intentional, and it's broken down into levels of severity, such as the following:
- First-degree murder is committed with premeditated intent to kill or while perpetrating a premeditated felony, such as arson, kidnapping, sexual abuse, child abuse, burglary, or robbery.
- Second-degree murder is intentional but unplanned or the result of conduct considered reckless and with malice, such as killing someone in response to a provocation or other intentional murder that was not premeditated.
In contrast, in 18 U.S.C. 1112, manslaughter is the killing of someone without malice or intent and includes two types as follows:
- Voluntary manslaughter is an unintentional killing but occurs when your behavior could reasonably cause death, such as recklessly firing a gun resulting in death, or killing someone in the heat of passion.
- Involuntary manslaughter is a reckless or criminally negligent act causing someone's death, such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, resulting in death, or killing a pedestrian due to texting while driving.
When Will Murder or Manslaughter Be Charged as Federal Crimes?
As noted, murder and manslaughter (and attempted) cases are typically prosecuted in state courts. Still, federal prosecutors will sometimes handle the case in federal courts, such as the Central District of California.
The factors that will determine whether attempted murder or manslaughter charges will become a federal prosecution include the following:
- You crossed state lines to commit the crime;
- The crime occurred on federal property;
- The crime occurred over the ocean;
- The crime occurred on an airplane or at the airport;
- Violations of federal laws while committing the crime;
- The intended victims were elected federal officials, judges, or law enforcement agents
What Are the Related Federal Laws?
Several federal laws are related to 18 U.S.C. 1113 attempts to commit murder or manslaughter. Many are listed under 18 U.S. Code Chapter 51 Homicide, including the following:
- 18 U.S.C. 1111 - Murder;
- 18 U.S.C. 1112 - Manslaughter;
- 18 U.S.C. 1114 - Protection of employees of the United States;
- 18 U.S.C. 1115 - Misconduct or neglect of ship officers;
- 18 U.S.C. 1116 - Murder or manslaughter of foreign officials;
- 18 U.S.C. 1117 - Conspiracy to murder;
- 18 U.S.C. 1118 - Murder by a federal prisoner;
- 18 U.S.C. 1119 - Foreign murder of United States nationals;
- 18 U.S.C. 1120 - Murder by escaped prisoners;
- 18 U.S.C. 1121 - Killing persons aiding federal investigations;
- 18 U.S.C. 1121 - Protection against the human immunodeficiency virus;
- 18 U.S.C. 1512 - Killing to influence the outcome of a court case;
- 18 U.S.C. 2280 - Murder Aboard a ship;
- 18 U.S.C. 2248 - Murder related to rape, child molestation;
- 18 U.S.C. 1958 - Murder for hire;
- 18 U.S.C. 1716 - Murder by mail;
- 18 U.S.C. 2113 - Bank robbery and incidental crimes;
- 18 U.S.C. 351 - Murder of elected officials;
- 18 U.S.C. 36 - Drive-by-shooting.
What Are the Penalties for 18 U.S.C 1113?
Suppose you are convicted of violating 18 U.S.C. 1113, attempting to commit murder or manslaughter. In that case, the penalties are not as significant for successful completion of the offense, but still harsh, as listed below:
- For an attempt to commit murder, the penalties include up to 20 years in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a $250,000 fine, or both;
- For an attempt to commit manslaughter, the penalties include up to seven years in prison, a fine, or both;
- After serving a term of imprisonment, you could face up to five years of supervised release;
- You might also be ordered to pay $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Unit;
- Federal laws provide for restitution for crime victims that were harmed;
- Undocumented immigrants will face deportation after serving a sentence.
What Are the Defenses for 18 U.S.C 1113?
Suppose you are under investigation or indicted for allegedly violating 18 U.S.C. 1113. In that case, an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer could use different strategies to obtain the best possible outcome, as discussed below.
Maybe we can argue for self-defense or the defense of someone else. Maybe we can prove that attempting murder or manslaughter was never the intent. Perhaps we can say that you were provoked or had a reasonable belief that you were in danger.
Perhaps we can argue that you abandoned your plans before you took a direct step toward committing the crime. Maybe we can make an argument for legal insanity.
Perhaps we can negotiate with the federal prosecutor for reduced charges or a case dismissal. You will need a lawyer who knows how to handle criminal cases in a federal courtroom to protect your legal rights.
Federal law enforcement agencies are often under pressure to complete their criminal investigation. Likewise, prosecutors can indict someone too quickly before an adequate investigation. Thus, in some cases, innocent people will face a federal indictment (link) for attempted murder or manslaughter.
You can contact us by phone or using the contact form for a free case evaluation. The Hedding Law Firm has offices in Los Angeles, California.