The question of whether murder is a federal crime in Georgia may not be as straightforward as you think, because murder is not a simple charge. The federal crime of murder can be complex if the federal government wants to bring charges and prosecute.
In most cases in Georgia, murder is considered a state crime, and the vast majority of murder cases are prosecuted in state courts. However, there are certain circumstances where murder may also be considered a federal crime. Let’s look at the charge of murder and the ways that it may be a federal crime.
If the murder was committed on federal property, such as a military base or a national park, that can be a federal crime of murder.
Another scenario where murder may be prosecuted as a federal crime is if it is murder of certain federal officials, such as a member of Congress or a federal judge.
Additionally, murder may be considered a federal crime if it involves interstate commerce or a violation of federal law. If a murder occurs in the commission of a federal crime, you could be charged with a federal charge of murder. Here is a short list of federal crimes
- Drug trafficking and distribution across state lines or national borders
- Cybercrime and computer-related offenses, including hacking and identity theft
- Immigration offenses, such as illegal entry or reentry into the United States
- Tax fraud and evasion, including failure to report income or assets held overseas
- Terrorism and related offenses, including financing and material support for terrorist organizations
- White-collar crime, such as securities fraud and embezzlement
- Firearms offenses, including possession of illegal firearms or using them in the commission of a crime
- Violations of civil rights, including hate crimes and police brutality
- Environmental crimes, such as pollution or illegal dumping
- Kidnapping and interstate transportation of a kidnapping victim.
In Georgia, murder is defined as the deliberate and premeditated killing of another person. It is a form of homicide that requires the intent to kill. This level of intent distinguishes murder from other types of homicide, such as manslaughter. To be classified as murder, the perpetrator must have intended to cause the victim’s death, regardless of the method or means used.
Georgia recognizes various degrees of murder, with first-degree murder being the most severe offense, and it carries the maximum penalty of capital punishment. In contrast, second-degree murder could constitute a crime of passion that involves intentionally killing another person without premeditation. The circumstances surrounding the murder can also impact how it is classified, such as whether it was committed during the commission of a felony, involving a firearm, or against members of law enforcement.
The determination of whether a case will be handled in federal or state court depends on various factors. In the United States, murders committed within a state’s borders fall under the jurisdiction of the state court system. Hence, any crime that violates state laws is referred to as a state crime and are prosecuted in state courts.
Federal charges are for crimes that occur on federal property or that violate federal law. Additionally, federal charges may be levied if the victim is a federal officer or if there is a national security concern.
For example, if the murder involves interstate commerce, like in the case of human trafficking or drug trafficking, it will fall under the purview of federal jurisdiction. Also if the victim is a federal official, such as an FBI agent, then federal murder charges can be brought. If a murder case initially starts at the state level, it can be later turned over to federal prosecutors if there is clear evidence that the crime violated federal laws.
Both the federal government and state government can criminalize the same conduct, and both can bring charges against you.
When charged with a murder, whether state or federal, it is important to obtain the services of an experienced trial criminal defense attorney who can provide the best defense possible. Criminal defense attorneys have a range of defense tactics in their arsenal, such as self-defense, insanity, accidental deaths, mistaken identity, or challenging evidence that the prosecution may present.
In Georgia, the state must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, which means that the evidence presented by the prosecution must prove that the defendant is guilty of the crime. If the prosecution fails to present sufficient evidence or meet the burden of proof, then the defendant will be acquitted.
Federal prosecutors tend to have more resources and legal expertise at their disposal than state prosecutors. This can make it more difficult for defendants to mount an effective defense and increase the likelihood of conviction. At Phillips Carson Phillips, based in Savannah, our criminal defense attorneys offer aggressive representation for clients charged federally or state. We have a reputation for success in court — a reputation for which we’ve worked hard. Our lawyers are trial lawyers. We have experience in the courtroom and will use that to obtain the best possible result. We are not afraid to try cases in front of a jury and know how to use a jury to our clients’ best advantage.
While murder may not be a federal crime in the majority of cases in Georgia, it is important for anyone facing murder charges to understand the potential federal implications and seek out the best legal representation possible. The stakes are simply too high to take chances. If you or a loved one has been charged with murder, contact Phillips Carson Phillips by calling (912) 232-0081 or using our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.