Most often, assault is charged as a state crime. But depending on who it’s committed against or where it’s committed, it can be prosecuted as a federal offense. When the U.S. Government has jurisdiction over an alleged assault incident, the investigation is thorough and the penalties are severe.
What Are the Federal Laws on Assault?
The U.S. Government has several laws concerning assault. The statute your case may be prosecuted under will depend on the facts.
Below we discuss a few of the federal assault laws:
Assault on a federal officer (18 U.S.C. § 111)
One of the ways you could be charged with federal assault is if you intentionally hit, kick, or in some way strike an officer or employee of the United States Government. You might also be charged if you attempted to injure or threatened to injure the officer or employee. Although the offense must have been committed while the other individual was performing their official duties, it’s not necessary you were aware that they were a federal employee at the time.
The penalties for assault on a federal officer or employee vary. If you are alleged to have committed simple assault, meaning no contact was made, but you intimidated the individual or impeded the performance of their duties, you could face up to 1 year of imprisonment. Actually making any contact with the officer will get you up to 8 years in prison. And if you used a deadly or dangerous weapon or caused bodily injury, you’re looking at a sentence of up to 20 years.
Assault on a Congressional, Cabinet, or Supreme Court Member (18 U.S.C. § 351)
A federal law exists specifically concerning assault on members of Congress or the executive branch or justices of the United States. Attempting to injure one of these individuals is punishable by up to 1 year of incarceration. But, if you allegedly used a dangerous weapon to commit the offense or caused bodily injury, you could be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 10 years.
Assault in Special Maritime and Territorial Jurisdiction of the U.S. (18 U.S.C § 113)
Striking an employee or officer of the U.S. Government isn’t the only way you can face a federal assault charge. If the alleged offense occurred in special maritime or territorial jurisdiction of the U.S., you could be prosecuted under federal law.
The law applies to intentional acts or uses of force causing another person to cause bodily harm when such conduct occurred in places like:
- High seas or waters under U.S. jurisdiction,
- Vessels operating under U.S. laws,
- Aircraft owned by the U.S. or a U.S. citizen or corporation, or
- Lands where no country has jurisdiction, but the offense was committed by or against a U.S. national.
Section 113 lists various penalties that can be imposed under different circumstances.
For instance, if you allegedly committed the assault:
- With the intent to commit murder, you could be facing up to 20 years in prison.
- With the intent to commit a felony other than murder, by using a deadly weapon, by causing serious bodily injury, or by strangling or suffocating a spouse or dating or intimate partner, you could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.
- By striking, beating, or wounding the other individual, you could be imprisoned for up to 1 year.
- Against a person under 16 years of age, you could face up to 1 year of imprisonment.
- With no aggravating factors present, you could be ordered to spend up to 6 months in prison.
Threats Against Federal Officials or Their Family Members (18 U.S.C. § 115)
Aside from being penalized for injuring or threatening to injure a federal agent or officer, you can also be imprisoned for threatening a federal employee. Section 115 says that threats to assault such an individual with the intent to interfere with the performance of their official duties is a crime. The law doesn’t apply only to federal workers; it also applies to members of their families. Thus, threatening someone related to a U.S. official, U.S. judge, or federal law enforcement officer is also illegal under federal statutes.
A threat of assault directed at a federal officer or their family members is punishable by up to 1 year of incarceration. However, if you made physical contact with them, you could be imprisoned for not more than 10 years.
Contact Patituce & Associates Today
Federal charges are serious, and a conviction can substantially impact the rest of your life. Get the legal representation you need to fight the allegations by retaining the services of our skilled and experienced Cleveland team.
Schedule a consultation by calling us at (440) 709-8088 or submitting an online contact form.