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Title 18 of the United States Code

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Title 18 of the United States Code is the main criminal code of the federal government of the United States.[1] The Title deals with federal crimes and criminal procedure. In its coverage, Title 18 is similar to most U.S. state criminal codes, which typically are referred to by such names as Penal Code, Criminal Code, or Crimes Code.[2] Typical of state criminal codes is the California Penal Code.[3] Many U.S. state criminal codes, unlike the federal Title 18, are based on the Model Penal Code promulgated by the American Law Institute.

Part I—Crimes

Chapters 1–10

Chapter 1: General Provisions

Chapter 2: Aircraft and Motor Vehicles

Chapter 3: Animals, Birds, Fish, and Plants

Chapter 5: Arson

This chapter deals with arson. It has only one section.

  • Section 81, which defines "arson", "attempted arson", or "conspiracy to commit arson", and provides a penalty of imprisonment for up to 25 years, the greater of the fine under this title or the cost of repairing or replacing any property that is damaged or destroyed, or both. It also provides that if the building is a dwelling or if the life of any person is placed in jeopardy, the penalty shall be a fine under this title, imprisonment for "any term of years or for life", or both.

Chapter 7: Assault

This chapter deals with assault.

  • Section 111 prohibits "assaulting, resisting, or impeding" officers, employees and Law Enforcement Explorers of the United States while engaged in or on account of the performance of official duties, and the assault or intimidation of "any person who formerly served" as an officers or employees of the United States "on account of the performance of official duties during such person's term of service". The section provides for a penalty for simple assault of a fine, imprisonment for up to one year, or both, and a penalty in all other cases of a fine, imprisonment for up to eight years, or both. An enhanced penalty of a fine or imprisonment for up to 20 years is provided for if a "deadly or dangerous weapon" is used or if bodily injury is inflicted.
  • Section 112 is "protection of foreign officials, official guests, and internationally protected persons". It prohibits assaulting or causing harm to a "foreign official, official guest, or internationally protected person" or "any other violent attack upon the person or liberty of such person", and provides a penalty of a fine, imprisonment of up to three years, or both, and an enhanced penalty of a fine or imprisonment of up to 10 years, or both, if a deadly or dangerous weapon" is used or if bodily injury is inflicted.
  • Section 112 also prohibits "[i]ntimidating, coercing, threatening, or harassing a foreign official or an official guest, or obstructing a foreign official in the performance of his duties", or an attempt to do so, and additionally prohibits two or more people congregating within 100 feet of any building being used "for diplomatic, consular, or residential purposes" by foreign officials or international organization, "with intent to violate any other provision of this section", and provides for a fine, imprisonment up to six months, or both. The section also provides that "Nothing contained in this section shall be construed or applied so as to abridge the exercise of rights" guaranteed under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
  • Section 113 provides punishments for assault within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States: for assault with intent to commit murder, imprisonment for not more than 20 years; for assault with intent to commit any felony except murder or a felony under chapter 109A, by a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than ten years, or both; for assault with a dangerous weapon, with intent to do bodily harm, and without just cause or excuse, by a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than ten years, or both; for assault by striking, beating, or wounding, by a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both; simple assault, by a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both, or if the victim of the assault is an individual who has not attained the age of 16 years, by fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 1 year, or both; assault resulting in serious bodily injury, by a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than ten years, or both; assault resulting in substantial bodily injury to an individual who has not attained the age of 16 years, by fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 5 years, or both.
    • Section 113 also defines "substantial bodily injury" as bodily injury which involves a temporary but substantial disfigurement, or a temporary but substantial loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member, organ, or mental faculty, and defines "serious bodily injury" as the meaning given that term in section 1365 of this title.
  • Section 114, makes it a crime within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States to, with intent to torture (as defined in section 2340), and provides that whoever shall "maim, disfigure, cuts, bites, or slits the nose, ear, or lip, or cuts out or disables the tongue, or puts out or destroys an eye, or cuts off or disables a limb or any member of another person; or whoever, within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, and with like intent, throws or pours upon another person, any scalding water, corrosive acid, or caustic substance shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both."
  • Section 115: Influencing, impeding, or retaliating against a federal official by threatening or injuring a family member
  • Section 116: Female genital mutilation to minors
  • Section 117: Domestic assault by an habitual offender
  • Assault on a federal process server is treated under Chapter 73 of Title 18, Section 1501. [4]

Chapter 9: Bankruptcy

Chapter 10: Biological weapons

Chapters 11–123

Part II—Criminal Procedure

Part III—Prisons and Prisoners

Part IV—Correction of Youthful Offenders

Part V—Immunity of Witnesses

This statute covers a specific way to satisfy the Fifth Amendment (right to silence as a form of protection against self-incrimination) to the Constitution, but still force witnesses to testify. Basically, if a witness—whether in a federal court such as a United States District Court or in testimony before a Congressional subcommittee—refuses to answer questions and pleads the 5th, the presiding officer can use the provisions of Title 18 Chapter 601 to forcibly compel the witness to answer the questions. Since this would violate the 5th amendment rights of the witness, the statute requires that the presiding officer must mandatorily preserve those rights, by guaranteeing the witness immunity from prosecution for anything they might truthfully say under such compulsion. (The witness is being compelled to answer the questions truthfully—if they lie, they can be tried in court for perjury, but as long as they tell the truth, they are immune from being personally prosecuted for anything they might say—which is the reverse of the usual situation, where anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.)

Actually giving a particular witness guaranteed immunity as a means to compelling their testimony is somewhat involved; the details of how it is done vary depending on the particular branch of government hearing the testimony. If the witness is testifying before an agency (includes Army/Navy/AirForce/VA/DOD/HomeSec/StateDept, FCC/FTC, DOT/NTSB, DOE/NRC/COP/DeptOfTheInterior, SEC/CFTC/FedBoard/FDIC, NLRB/LaborDept/CommerceDept/AgDept, DOJ/Treasury, and many others), the presiding officer for the agency needs approval from the federal Attorney General before they can grant a witness immunity and compel testimony. In court cases, the federal district attorney (for the particular federal district court which has jurisdiction in the case) needs approval from either the federal attorney general directly or from a specific set of the federal attorney general's underlings. In the case of testimony before congress, the body hearing the testimony must vote on whether or not to give immunity as a means to compel testimony, before getting a federal district court to issue to compulsion order; for a subcommittee, two-thirds of the full membership must vote affirmative, whereas for testimony before an entire house of congress a simple majority of members present voting affirmative is acceptable. Although congress must notify the federal attorney general 10 days in advance of submitting their request for compulsion to the federal district court, the AG cannot veto the order (but they can at their option instruct the federal district court to delay issuing the compulsion order for a period up to 20 days total).

See also



  1. ^ "United States Code". Office of the Law Revision Counsel. Retrieved November 24, 2015.
  2. ^ General Assembly, Pennsylvania. "Title 18, section 101". Consolidated Statutes. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  3. ^ "California Penal Code § 6". California Office of Legislative Counsel. Retrieved February 9, 2019.
  4. ^ 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1501,
  5. ^ Legal Information Institute, 18 U.S. Code § 14 - Repealed, accessed 26 June 2022
  6. ^ § 14. Applicability to Canal Zone; definition, accessed 26 June 2022

External links

This page was last edited on 31 October 2022, at 14:09
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