• Unspeakable Times

All 41 Crimes Punishable by Death in the US

There are 41 crimes punishable by death in US federal law codes. Federal death penalty crimes almost always involve murder committed in some kind of special circumstance, involving protected classes, multiple crimes, or children. There are 62 prisoners on federal death row, and their crimes range from multiple murders to terrorist bombings.

While many crimes punishable by death by the federal government are well-known, others on this capital offenses list are obscure, and have never actually resulted in anyone getting the death penalty. For example, while committing a murder during a hijacking or terrorist attack are capital crimes, so are killing someone on a merchant ship, oil platform, or in the process of wrecking a train. Many of these crimes that send you to death row have never actually been used in court, or resulted in the death penalty.

Here are all 41 federal capital crimes in the United States - whether or not they have resulted in a criminal's death.
  • Murder Related to the Smuggling of Aliens

  • Destruction of Aircraft or Motor Vehicles Resulting in Death

  • Murder Committed During a Drug-Related Drive-by Shooting

  • Murder Committed at an International Airport

    Suspected LAX shooter Paul Anthony Ciancia will face the death penalty on this charge at his upcoming trial.
  • Retaliatory Murder of a Family Member of Law Enforcement Officials

  • Civil Rights Offenses Resulting in Death

  • Murder of a Member of Congress, Executive Official, or Supreme Court Justice

  • Espionage

    Ethel and Julius Rosenberg are the only people ever executed in the US for espionage.
  • Death Resulting from Transportation of Explosives, Destruction of Government Property, or During Foreign Commerce

    One of the statutes used to execute Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
  • Murder with a Firearm During a Drug-Trafficking Offense

    Used to prosecute numerous high-level drug traffickers.
  • Murder Committed in a Federal Government Facility

    Gulf War veteran Louis Jones was executed for committing murder on an Army base on March 18, 2003.
  • Genocide

  • First-Degree Murder

    Most federal death row inmates face the death penalty for first-degree murder.
  • Murder of a Federal Judge or Law Enforcement Official

  • Murder of a Foreign Official

  • Murder by a Federal Prisoner

    At least six men are currently on federal death row for this.
  • Murder of a US National in a Foreign Country

  • Murder by an Escaped Federal Prisoner Already Sentenced to Life in Prison

    Chadrick Fulks is the only prisoner currently on federal death row for this.
  • Murder of a Law Enforcement Official Aiding a Federal Investigation

    Used to hang Robert Suhay and Glenn Applegate in 1938.
  • Murder During a Kidnapping

    Victor Feguer, the last exection before the death penalty moratorium, was hanged for this in 1963.
  • Murder During a Hostage Taking

  • Murder of a Juror or Court Officer

  • Murder with the Intent of Preventing Testimony by a Witness

    So-called "Medicare Murderer" Ronald Mikos is on death row for this.
  • Retalitory Murder of a Witness, Victim, or Informant

    Former New Orleans police officer Len Davis is on death row for this.
  • Mailing of Injurious Material with Intent to Kill or Resulting in Death