A person commits a federal offense when he or she travels or uses facilities in interstate or foreign commerce with the intent to murder another person for monetary compensation.
Congress enacted the federal murder-for-hire statute as part of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984. The federal murder-for-hire statute provides that anyone who travels in or causes another person to travel in interstate or foreign commerce or who uses or causes another person to use the mail or any facility in interstate or foreign commerce, with the intent to commit a murder in violation of any state law or federal law, the consideration of which is the receipt of money or anything of pecuniary value, commits the offense of murder-for-hire.
In order to convict a defendant of the federal offense of murder-for-hire, the federal government is not required to prove that the defendant intended or knew that the mail or any other facility of interstate commerce would be used or that interstate travel would occur. The government only needs to prove that the defendant used or caused another person to use the mail or any other facility of interstate commerce with the intent that a murder would be committed.
A federal court obtains jurisdiction over a prosecution for the offense of murder-for-hire by travel in interstate or foreign commerce, by the use of the mail, or by the use of any facility in interstate or foreign commerce. The terms “facility in interstate or foreign commerce” include transportation and communication. Any use of the mail, including intrastate mail, confers jurisdiction on a federal court. One interstate telephone call will confer federal jurisdiction as long as the interstate telephone call facilitated the murder. However, one intrastate telephone call will not confer federal jurisdiction.
Both a person who hires a person to commit a murder and the person who is hired to commit the murder are subject to prosecution under the federal murder-for-hire statute. The person who hires the person to commit the murder is subject to prosecution when he or she causes the person who is hired to commit the murder to use facilities in interstate commerce.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has the authority to investigate murder-for-hire cases. The punishment for committing the offense depends upon whether a personal injury or a death occurs. If no personal injury or death occurs, a defendant may be sentenced to 10 years in prison, may be subject to a fine, or both. If a personal injury occurs, a defendant may be sentenced to 20 years in prison, may be subject to a fine, or both. If a death occurs, a defendant may be sentenced to life in prison or even death, may be subject to a fine of up to $250,000, or both.
Copyright 2011 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.