Treason, Sedition, and Subversive Activities - Criminal Defense Lawyer
Treason is a serious crime in the United States that carries equally serious consequences, up to and including the death penalty. Sedition and subversive activities, while generally less serious than treason, still carry harsh penalties, including hefty fines and prison time. Being charged with any of these crimes can jeopardize your freedom and so much more, including damage to your reputation and your family’s, too.
Although prosecution for treason is rare in the U.S., it is not unheard of, and at least one American citizen faced treason charges in recent years in connection with his support of al-Qaeda. People who levy war against the U.S. or support its enemies can be charged with sedition or other related crimes.
If you have been charged with treason, sedition, or subversive activities, contact The Law Office of Joel M. Mann right away. Our firm has successfully represented clients charged with a wide range of crimes at the state and federal level and can put this experience to work on your behalf. Contact our office for a free, confidential case review and let us know about your situation.
What Are Treason and Sedition?
Although the terms “treason” and “sedition” are sometimes used interchangeably, they have different legal meanings. Interestingly, the U.S. Constitution specifically mentions treason, the only crime contained in its text.
Treason is usually a federal crime defined as the betrayal of one’s country. It is an individual’s willful and intentional act to overthrow the government in one of two ways: waging war or materially aiding the country’s enemies. A person may be found guilty of treason if they owe an allegiance to the U.S. and intentionally betray that allegiance through one of the acts described above. Although treason can be a state crime, charges at the state level are rare due to the nature of our federal government.
Sedition, on the other hand, can be a crime at the state and federal level. It occurs when an individual forcefully tries to overthrow or hinder a functioning government or its laws through words or speech.
Treason Vs. Sedition
While treason and sedition both carry significant penalties, treason is the more serious criminal offense, and the penalties reflect that. A person convicted of treason in the U.S. can be sentenced to death, whereas a person convicted of sedition will not face the death penalty but can be sentenced up to 20 years in prison. Furthermore, anyone convicted of treason against the U.S. will be ineligible to hold public office.
Although treason can be defined as actively levying war against the U.S., the crime can be applied more broadly than that. Simply assembling a group of people ready and willing to use force to overthrow the government can meet the threshold required for a charge of treason. A person may also be charged with treason for providing “aid and comfort” to an enemy of the U.S., including taking any concrete steps that benefit an enemy, even if the act is unsuccessful.
On the other hand, sedition is generally defined as a conspiracy or plot to disrupt the U.S. government, not necessarily a direct act of war or aiding an enemy of the state. An individual or group who forcefully opposes the government by preventing or delaying it from executing its laws can be charged with sedition.
The definition of these crimes may seem straightforward, but there are a lot of gray areas when it comes to charging and prosecuting individuals accused of treason and sedition. If you are facing charges of sedition or treason in Las Vegas, contact our office immediately so we can begin mounting a vigorous defense on your behalf.
What Are the Three Elements of Treason?
There are three elements of treason that must be established to secure a conviction. Those elements, which are the same under federal and state law, are as follows:
- The accused owes allegiance to the government – Only a citizen or other individual who owes loyalty or allegiance to the country (or the state) can be charged with treason.
- The accused intended to betray that allegiance – There must be evidence demonstrating the defendant intended to commit treason. In essence, there must be a purposeful and specific intent on the defendant’s part to betray their government.
- The accused committed an overt act – It must be proven that the defendant took direct and substantial actions against the government. A thought or plan may not be enough to prove treason.
What Is the Punishment for Treason and Sedition?
At the federal level, treason is a crime with significant penalties for those convicted. While technically a possibility, the death penalty for treason at the federal level has only been carried out a handful of times and never since the 19th century. However, there are stiff minimum penalties for treason, which include:
- A fine of at least $10,000
- At least five years in prison
- Lifetime bar on holding any federal office
Sedition also carries stiff penalties for those convicted of the crime. Possible punishment can include:
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Up to 20 years in prison
The penalties for treason and sedition can be life-changing. The collateral consequences of a conviction for treason or sedition can last a lifetime. A person convicted of either crime may be branded a “traitor” for the rest of their life. Furthermore, a criminal record can make it challenging to get employment, find housing, secure a loan, or continue higher education. Our criminal defense attorney in Las Vegas will fight vigorously to help guard against these consequences.
To Learn More, Contact Attorney Joel M. Mann Today
If you’ve been charged with a serious criminal offense like sedition or treason, do not wait to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. At The Law Office of Joel M. Mann, we have the experience and determination to fight for your rights no matter how serious the charges against you. Contact us today for a free case review with a treason attorney in Las Vegas.