Decoding Legal Aspects of Treason

Treason is one of the most serious crimes in the country. This is because it can put the safety and security of a country in danger. Treason is a crime where the accused intentionally betrays one’s allegiance.

According to Article III, Section 3 of the US Constitution, treason is defined as:

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

Treason is a crime against the nation. Hence, it is rarely considered a criminal offense against the state. 

Treason laws are applicable to all US citizens including those holding dual citizenship since they owe an allegiance to the country. These laws are also applicable for those individuals who owe temporary allegiance such as those who have been domiciled.

Treason is of two types:

Levying War

Levying war is either formally declaring war or forcible opposition to the implementation of public law. Forcible opposition is when there is an assemblage of a group of people with an intent to use force.

Offering Aid or Comfort to the Enemy

An individual is considered to be offering aid or comfort to the enemy if:

  • S/he provides financial assistance to the enemy.
  • S/he harbors an enemy soldier.
  • S/he helps the enemy in his hostile designs.
  • S/he adheres to the enemy.

There are certain overt acts that are considered acts of treason. Overt acts are those acts that indicate the criminal intent of the accused to further the crime. Acts such as making online posts, providing arms and ammunition, etc. are considered treasonable acts. An overt act of treason may not necessarily be an act committed by one individual at a specific location. There could be multiple players operating together from different locations as part of a plan.

Treason cases are tried in Federal court. The prosecutor is required to substantiate the criminal charges by the testimonies of two witnesses confirming the act by the defendant. The defendant can also be proved guilty if he confesses to the crime. If an individual is accused of treason, the prosecution is required to prove that the act was committed with a criminal intention.

Criminal Acts that are Related to Treason include;

Sedition: It is a conspiracy to overthrow a government by force, hinder the execution of a US law, or seize US property.

Rebellion: It is inciting, assisting, or engaging in any act that resists the authority or laws of the government.

Misprision of Treason: This is an act of treason wherein an individual knows about someone who has committed an act of treason and canceling this Information from authorities.

Espionage: It is when an individual obtains classified information about the country’s security and reveals it to another nation.

The penalties for an act of treason are severe. The guilty individual can be imprisoned for five years and pay a fine of $10000. The convicted individual cannot hold any federal office. A crime of treason can also be punished with a death sentence.

Autrey Law Firm has a team of expert treason lawyers who can defend you if you are charged with treason.