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Matthew A. Radefeld and Daniel A. Juengel

Violent crime at the federal level

On Behalf of | Mar 20, 2023 | Violent Crimes |

When an individual uses physical force against another person, Missouri classifies this action as a violent crime. The majority of these cases are prosecuted at the state level, but under unique circumstances, these crimes can become federal offenses.

A federal investigation can occur when the offense violates United States federal laws or crosses multiple state laws. Federal prosecutions are more likely to result in harsher, mandatory sentences.

When is a violent crime a federal charge?

Violent crimes become a federal matter when:

  • The crime takes place across state lines
  • The crime happens on indigenous land or federal property
  • The victim’s identity triggers federal jurisdiction
  • There is a sexual component to the crime

Overview of a violent crime

A violent crime is an offense featuring the use, threat, or attempt of physical force against a person or property and a felony that, by nature, encompasses a substantial risk that physical force was or could be utilized.

There are general categories that fall under the violent crime umbrella, including:

  • Kidnapping
  • Assault and battery
  • Gang violence
  • Domestic violence
  • Murder

What triggers a federal investigation?

Violent crimes become federal matters based on the elements of the case. If a federal employee is assaulted, intimidated, interfered with, or resisted, the perpetrator is likely to face federal charges.

Penalties will include a fine and start with up to 12 months of jail time. If physical contact is evident, the act becomes a felony with up to eight years imprisonment. That number more than doubles if there’s bodily injury or a weapon is deployed.

Domestic violence and stalking

The 1994 Violence Against Women Act makes certain acts a federal offense when crossing state borders or traveling overseas. The guidelines for violent crime also include aggression and threats performed online. Almost any action that results in substantial distress or reasonably places an individual in fear of bodily injury can lead to a federal charge.

Homicide and murder

The death of a government official or federal officer is a priority matter. A crime involving a threat to a person’s life can end up in federal court, even if no one is killed. When a murder takes place within the U.S. territorial jurisdiction, the defendant’s intent isn’t taken into consideration. It will bear little consequence whether or not they plan to do any harm.

Defendants of violent crimes can also face both state and federal charges, potentially serving two different sentences. In some cases, this might mean concurrent terms. Otherwise, the accused will serve two separate sentences in different prisons.