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Criminal Law. Chapter 13 Crimes Against the State Joel Samaha, 9 th Ed. Treason. Treason is the only crime defined in the U.S. Constitution. (Article III, Section 3)

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Criminal law

Criminal Law

Chapter 13

Crimes Against the State

Joel Samaha, 9th Ed.


Treason is the only crime

defined in the U.S. Constitution.

(Article III, Section 3)

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or, in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act,

or on Confession in open Court.

Penalty: death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000, and shall be incapable of holding any public office under the United States.

Elements of treason
Elements of Treason

  • Actusreus

    a. Treason requires levying war against the U.S.

    b. Treason also requires giving aid and comfort to enemies of the U.S.

  • Mens Rea

    a. Defendants must have had the intent to give aid and comfort.

    b. The intent must have been for the very purpose of betraying the U.S. by means of that aid and comfort.

  • Proof

    a. Two witnesses to the actusreus are required.

    b. Confession in open court is also proof.


Sedition includes advocating the violent overthrow

of the U.S. government by either speech,

writing (libel), or conspiracy.

(U.S. Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 115)


Sabotage is damaging and/or destroying property

related to war and defense material,

buildings, and utilities

(which includes transportation and harbors).

Sabotage also includes producing defective property

related to war and defense.

Elements of sabotage
Elements of Sabotage

  • Actus reus

    a. Includes: destroy, damage, obstruct, interfere, contaminate, and/or produce defective war or national defense materials.

  • Mens Rea

    a. The defendant has to purposely obstruct (or commit any other acts in actus reus).

    b. The defendant has to knowingly obstruct (or commit any other acts in actus reus).

    c. The defendant has to negligently obstruct (or commit any other acts in actus reus).

  • Circumstance

    a. The sabotage has to take place when the U. S. is at war.

    b. Sabotage can also take place during a national emergency.


Espionage is secret intelligence gathering by spies

about foreign people, activities, and enterprises

for political and military uses.

Elements of espionage
Elements of Espionage

U.S. Code espionage elements (any time)

  • Actusreus

    a. Includes: communicate, deliver, transmit, or attempt to communicate, deliver, or transmit intelligence information harmful to the U.S.

  • Mens Rea

    a. The defendant has to injure purposely.

    b. The defendant has to have reason to believe use of the intelligence will cause injury.

  • Circumstances

    a. Intelligence was provided to a foreign government.

    b. Intelligence was provided to a foreign faction or party.

    c. Intelligence was provided to a foreign military or naval force.

    d. Intelligence was provided to a foreign representative, officer, agent, employee, subject, or citizen.

Elements of espionage1
Elements of Espionage

U.S. Code espionage elements (during war).

  • Actus reus

    a. Collect any intelligence useful to the enemy, publish it, communicate it, or attempt to do so.

  • Mens rea

    a. The intent to communicate information to the enemy.

  • Circumstance

    a. It occurs during time of war.

Antiterrorism crimes
Antiterrorism Crimes

Treason, sedition, sabotage, espionage, murder,

attempted murder, and conspiracy to murder

can all be used to prosecute crimes

related to terrorists and terrorist organizations.

Specific antiterrorism crimes are prosecuted under

U.S. Code Chapter 113 B, “Terrorism;”

the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (1996); and the U.S.A. Patriot Act (2001).

Specific antiterrorism crimes
Specific Antiterrorism Crimes*

  • Use of certain weapons of mass destruction.

  • Acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries.

  • Harboring or concealing terrorists.

  • Providing material support to terrorists.

  • Providing material support or resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations.

    * The code divides terrorism into two kinds: international terrorism (outside the U.S.) and domestic terrorism – acts intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, acts that intimidate or coerce public policy making, or acts that affect the government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.

Use of weapons of mass destruction
Use of Weapons of Mass Destruction

  • A weapon of mass destruction is:

    a. “any destructive device” – explosive, incendiary, poison gas, bomb, grenade, rocket, missile, mine, or similar device.

    b. any weapond intended to cause death or serious bodily injury by poisonous chemicals or precursor

    c. any weapon involving a disease mechanism

    d. any weapon designed to release radiation or radioactivity at levels dangerous to human life

  • Actus reus: Use, threaten to use, or attempt or conspire to use.

  • Mens rea: Without lawful authority – voluntary.

  • Circumstance: Either use against a U.S. “national” outside the U.S.; use against any “person” inside the U.S.; use against any U.S. government property inside or outside the U.S.; or, use against any foreign government’s property inside the U.S.

Acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries
Acts of Terrorism Transcending National Boundaries

It is a felony for anyone whose conduct

transcends national boundaries –

acts that take place partly outside and partly inside the U.S.

(U.S. Code, Section 2332b)

  • Actusreus

    a. committing violent crimes against any person inside the U.S., e.g., kill, kidnap, maim, assault, assault with a deadly weapon.

    b. create a substantial risk of serious bodily injury by destroying or damaging property within the U.S.

    c. threatening or attempting or conspiring to commit (a) or (b).

Harboring or concealing terrorists
Harboring or Concealing Terrorists

  • Actusreus

    a. harboring or concealing persons who have committed or are about to commit a list of terrorist-related crimes (the list of terrorist-related crimes is basically all of the crimes already mentioned – treason, sedition, sabotage, espionage, using weapons of mass destruction, etc.).

  • Mensrea

    a. knowing (or a reasonable person should have known) the crimes listed under the actusreuswere going to be committed.

Providing material support to terrorists and or terrorist organizations
Providing “Material Support” to Terrorists and/or Terrorist Organizations*

Since September 11, 2001,

the most commonly prosecuted crime

against the state.

  • Actusreus

    a. provide material support or resources to individual terrorists or terrorists organizations

    b. conceal or disguise the nature, location, source, or ownership of material support or resources

  • Mensrea

    a. intending or knowing that support or resources are to be used in preparing or committing a list of crimes helpful to terrorist or terrorist organizations.

    * Material support includes: currency or financial instruments, financial services, lodging, training, expert advice, safe houses, communications equipment, personnel, transportation, weapons or explosives, etc.

Criminal law

What are the facts and opinion in Terrorist Organizations*

Humanitarian Law Project, v. Gonzales (2005)

Does the ‘void-for-vagueness doctrine’ apply to this case?

If so, in what way?