Title 18 of the United States Code


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—CrimesEdit

Chapters 1–10Edit

Chapter 1: General ProvisionsEdit

  • Section 1 is repealed.
  • Section 2 defines principals.
  • Section 3 defines and provides punishment for "accessory after the fact".
  • Section 4 defines and provides punishment for "misprision of felony".
  • Section 5 defines "United States".
  • Section 6 defines "department" and "agency".
  • Section 7 defines "special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States".
  • Section 8 defines "obligation or other security of the United States".
  • Section 9 defines "vessel of the United States".
  • Section 10 defines "interstate commerce" and "foreign commerce".
  • Section 11 defines "foreign government".
  • Section 12 defines "United States Postal Service".
  • Section 13 deals with laws of states adopted for areas within federal jurisdiction.
  • Section 14 is repealed.
  • Section 15 defines "obligation or other security of foreign government".
  • Section 16 defines "crime of violence".
  • Section 17 deals with the insanity defense, defining it as "an affirmative defense to a prosecution under any Federal statute that, at the time of the commission of the acts constituting the offense, the defendant, as a result of a severe mental disease or defect, was unable to appreciate the nature and quality or the wrongfulness of his acts", that "mental disease or defect does not otherwise constitute a defense", and that "the defendant has the burden of proving the defense of insanity by clear and convincing evidence".
  • Section 18 defines "organization".
  • Section 19 defines "petty offense".
  • Section 20 defines "financial institution".
  • Section 21 defines "stolen or counterfeit nature of property for certain crimes".
  • Section 23.1 defines "court of the United States".
  • Section 24 provides "definitions relating to Federal health care offense".
  • Section 25 deals with the "use of minors in crimes of violence".

Chapter 2: Aircraft and Motor VehiclesEdit

  • Section 31 contains definitions.
  • Section 32 creates the "crime of destruction of aircraft or aircraft facilities".
  • Section 33 prohibits "destruction of motor vehicles or motor vehicle facilities".
  • Section 34 provides the "penalty when death results".
  • Section 35 prohibits "imparting or conveying false information".
  • Section 36 deals with drive-by shooting.
  • Section 37 prohibits "violence at international airports".
  • Section 38 deals with "fraud involving aircraft or space vehicle parts in interstate or foreign commerce".
  • Section 39.1 prohibits unauthorized traffic signal preemption transmitters, while an additional Section 39.1 requires commercial vehicles to stop for inspections.

Chapter 3: Animals, Birds, Fish, and PlantsEdit

  • Section 41 prohibits hunting, fishing, trapping, or disturbance or injury to birds, fish, or wildlife in any protected areas of the United States, and provides a penalty of a fine under this title or imprisonment up to six months, or both.
  • Section 42 is titled "importation or shipment of injurious mammals, birds, fish (including mollusks and crustacea), amphibia, and reptiles; permits, specimens for museums; regulations". It prohibits the import of harmful or invasive species, including Urva auropunctata, bats of the genus Pteropus, the zebra mussel, and the brown tree snake, and authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to bar other harmful species. The section also provides exemptions.
  • Section 43 is titled "animal enterprise terrorism" and prohibits intentional disruption or harm to "animal enterprises" through interstate or foreign commerce, and provides various penalties.
  • Section 44 and Section 45 are repealed.
  • Section 46 bars the transportation of the invasive plants alligator weed, water caltrop, and Eichhornia crassipes, and provides for a penalty of a fine under this title, or imprisonment up to six months, or both.
  • Section 47 prohibits the use of an aircraft or motor vehicle to hunt any "wild unbranded horse, mare, colt, or burro running at large on any of the public land or ranges" and prohibits the pollution of any watering hole on any of the public land or ranges for the purpose of hunting any of the named animals, and provides for a penalty of a fine under this title, or imprisonment up to six months, or both, for each offense.
  • Section 48 prohibits the possession of any depiction of animal cruelty with the intention of placing that depiction in interstate or foreign commerce for commercial gain, and provides a penalty of a fine under this title, or imprisonment up to five years, or both, and excepts any depiction that has "serious religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical, or artistic value".

Chapter 5: ArsonEdit

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: AssaultEdit

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: BankruptcyEdit

Chapter 10: Biological weaponsEdit

Chapters 11–123Edit

  • Chapter 11: Bribery, graft, and conflicts of interest
  • Chapter 11A: Child support
  • Chapter 11B: Chemical weapons
  • Chapter 12: Civil disorders
  • Chapter 13: Civil rights
  • Chapter 14 was repealed in 2002.[5] It related to the former (Panama) Canal Zone.[6]
  • Chapter 15: Claims and services in matters affecting government
    • Sections 285-292 apply
    • Sections 281-284 and 293 have been repealed
  • Chapter 17: Coins and currency
  • Chapter 17A: Common carrier under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Chapter 18: Congressional, Cabinet, and Supreme Court assassination, kidnapping, and assault
  • Chapter 19: Conspiracy
  • Chapter 21: Contempts
  • Chapter 23: Contracts
  • Chapter 25: Counterfeiting and forgery
  • Chapter 26: Criminal street gangs
  • Chapter 27: Customs
  • Chapter 29: Elections and political activities
  • Chapter 31: Embezzlement and theft
  • Chapter 33: Emblems, insignia, and names
  • Chapter 35: Escape and rescue
  • Chapter 37: Espionage and censorship
  • Chapter 39: Explosives and other dangerous articles
  • Chapter 40: Importation, manufacture, distribution and storage of explosive materials
  • Chapter 41: Extortion and threats (including threats against the President of the United States)
  • Chapter 42: Extortionate credit transactions
  • Chapter 43: False personation
  • Chapter 44: Firearms
    • Section 921 defines various terms as used in §§ 921–931, which are also found in the definition of aggravated felony.
    • Section 922 prohibiting certain behavior involving firearms (e.g. 18 U.S. Code § 922(g), declaring it unlawful for a prohibited person to ship, transport, or possess a firearm)
    • Section 923
    • Section 924
    • Section 925
    • Section 926
    • Section 927
    • Section 928
    • Section 929
    • Section 930
    • Section 931
  • Chapter 45: Foreign relations threats
  • Chapter 46: Forfeiture (§§ 981–987)
  • Chapter 47: Fraud and false statements (§§ 1001–1040)
  • Chapter 49: Fugitives from justice
  • Chapter 51: Homicide
  • Chapter 53: Indians
  • Chapter 55: Kidnapping
  • Chapter 57: Labor
  • Chapter 59: Liquor traffic
  • Chapter 60: Illegal grocery delivery
  • Chapter 61: Lotteries
  • Chapter 63: Mail fraud
    • Section 1341 targets frauds and swindles.
    • Section 1342 applies to fictitious name or address.
    • Section 1343 applies to fraud by wire, radio, or television.
    • Section 1344 applies to bank fraud.
    • Section 1345 provides for injunctions against fraud.
    • Section 1346 is a single sentence: "For the purposes of this chapter, the term 'scheme or artifice to defraud' includes a scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services."
    • Section 1347 targets health care fraud.
    • Section 1348 targets securities fraud.
    • Section 1349 is a single sentence: "Any person who attempts or conspires to commit any offense under this chapter shall be subject to the same penalties as those prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the attempt or conspiracy."
    • Section 1350 was introduced by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and applies to failure of corporate officers to certify financial reports.
  • Chapter 65: Malicious mischief
  • Chapter 67: Military and navy
  • Chapter 68: [Repealed]
  • Chapter 69: Nationality and citizenship
  • Chapter 71: Obscenity
  • Chapter 73: Obstruction of justice
  • Chapter 74: Partial-birth abortions
  • Chapter 75: Passports and visas
  • Chapter 77: Peonage, slavery, and trafficking in persons
  • Chapter 79: Perjury
  • Chapter 81: Piracy and privateering
  • Chapter 83: Postal Service
  • Chapter 84: Presidential and Presidential staff assassination, kidnapping, and assault
  • Chapter 85: Prison-made goods
  • Chapter 87: Prisons
  • Chapter 88: Privacy
  • Chapter 89: Professions and occupations
  • Chapter 90: Protection of trade secrets
  • Chapter 90a: Protection of unborn children
  • Chapter 91: Public lands
  • Chapter 93: Public officers and employees
  • Chapter 95: Racketeering
  • Chapter 96: Racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations
  • Chapter 97: Railroads
  • Chapter 99: [Repealed]
  • Chapter 101: Records and reports
  • Chapter 102: Riots
  • Chapter 103: Robbery and burglary
  • Chapter 105: Sabotage
  • Chapter 107: Seamen and stowaways
  • Chapter 109: Searches and seizures
  • Chapter 109a: Sexual abuse
  • Chapter 110: Sexual exploitation and other abuse of children
  • Chapter 110a: Domestic violence and stalking
  • Chapter 111: Seamen shipping
  • Chapter 113: Stolen property
  • Chapter 113a: Telemarketing fraud
  • Chapter 113b: Terrorism
  • Chapter 113c: Torture
  • Chapter 114: Trafficking in contraband cigarettes
  • Chapter 115: Treason, sedition, and subversive activities
  • Chapter 117: Transportation for illegal sexual activity and related crimes
  • Chapter 118: War crimes
  • Chapter 119: Wire and electronic communications interception and interception of oral communications
  • Chapter 121: Stored wire and electronic communications and transactional records access
  • Chapter 123: Prohibition on release and use of certain personal information from state motor vehicle records

Part II—Criminal ProcedureEdit

  • Chapter 201: General Provisions
  • Chapter 203: Arrest and Commitment
  • Chapter 204: Rewards for Information Concerning Terrorist Acts and Espionage
  • Chapter 205: Searches and Seizures
  • Chapter 206: Pen Registers and Trap and Trace Devices
  • Chapter 207: Release and Detention Pending Judicial Proceedings
  • Chapter 208: Speedy Trial
  • Chapter 209: Extradition
  • Chapter 211: Jurisdiction and Venue
  • Chapter 212: Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction
  • Chapter 212a: Extraterritorial Jurisdiction over Certain Trafficking In Persons Offenses
  • Chapter 213: Limitations
  • Chapter 215: Grand Jury
  • Chapter 216: Special Grand Jury
  • Chapter 217: Indictment and Information
  • Chapter 219: Trial by United States Magistrate Judges
  • Chapter 221: Arraignment, Pleas and Trial
  • Chapter 223: Witnesses and Evidence
  • Chapter 224: Protection of Witnesses
  • Chapter 225: Verdict
  • Chapter 227: Sentences
  • Chapter 228: Death Sentence
  • Chapter 228a: Post-Conviction DNA Testing
  • Chapter 229: Postsentence Administration
  • Chapter 231: [Repealed]
  • Chapter 232: Miscellaneous Sentencing Provisions
  • Chapter 232a: Special Forfeiture of Collateral Profits of Crime
  • Chapter 233: Contempts
  • Chapter 237: Crime Victims Rights

Part III—Prisons and PrisonersEdit

  • Chapter 301: General Provisions
  • Chapter 303: Bureau of Prisons
  • Chapter 305: Commitment and Transfer
  • Chapter 306: Transfer To or From Foreign Countries
  • Chapter 307: Employment
  • Chapter 309: [Repealed]
  • Chapter 311: [Repealed]
  • Chapter 313: Offenders with Mental Disease or Defect
  • Chapter 314: [Repealed]
  • Chapter 315: Discharge and Release Payments
  • Chapter 317: Institutions for Women
  • Chapter 319: National Institute of Corrections

Part IV—Correction of Youthful OffendersEdit

Part V—Immunity of WitnessesEdit

  • Chapter 601: 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 alsoEdit



  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, https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1501
  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 linksEdit

  • U.S. Code Title 18, via United States Government Printing Office
  • U.S. Code Title 18, via Cornell University
  • text of Title 18 Chapter 601 Immunity for witnesses, via findlaw.com
  • http://witnesses.uslegal.com/immunity, on the reasoning behind immunity guarantees
  • How to incriminate yourself on the stand without getting in trouble, Jan 2008, by Harlan Protass, on Slate.com; retrieved 2011-11-02.