FOLLOW US :
212-300-5196

White Glove Service. Excellent Results. Strong Reputation.

Read Our Reviews

What is Espionage? +Laws, Charges & Statute of Limitations

June 25, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

Espionage is a wide set of federal crimes as described by chapter 37 of the United States Code (USC).

The driving force behind most of the espionage cases is the collection and dissemination of information of a sensitive nature from the United States government to other foreign agencies or entities.

The harshness and frequency of espionage cases have drastically increased since the 9/11 attack.

Anyone tasked with storing classified information such as intelligence or defense information can potentially be charged for espionage because they are responsible in case such sensitive information gets to unauthorized parties.

Espionage laws

Espionage laws are not new – they have been in existence since the 20th century. Most people are not familiar with espionage laws because people who often come into contact with the government’s sensitive documents are senior politicians and members of the military.

Nonetheless, the United States government has in recent years increased the scope of how espionage laws operate across the globe. There has been a deliberate attempt to educate the general public about these laws and how they affect they affect them.

Espionage crimes and charges

Statutes give a large category of various espionage crimes as well as charges. This depends on the particular type of information that was given out or held back as well as the security value of the information in question.

Common espionage charges include the following:

• Collecting, transmitting or losing defense information
• Concealing or harboring any person whether domestic or foreign – whom the person concealing has reason to believe that the individual has committed or is about to commit a crime under the espionage laws.
• Sketching or photographing defense structures or installations, use aircraft to take capture such installations and distributing the same to the public or unauthorized parties.
• Disclosing classified information
• Publishing or selling pictures of defense installations
• Going against the regulations set by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
• Collecting and distributing defense information to a foreign country to help them in a time of war.

Penalties and punishment for espionage

Punishment for espionage crimes differs depending on the facts presented against the defendant. However, one important thing to note is that members of the military who are found to have engaged in espionage crime are punished by a death sentence.

On the other hand, any civilian in the United States who is found guilty of espionage crime can also receive very harsh punishments such as life imprisonment. This however depends on the federal statutes and guidelines for such punishment.

Guidelines for sentencing espionage crimes

Espionage sentencing guidelines are complex. All espionage cases are reviewed and evaluated according to different levels of points.

All offenses have what’s referred to as “Base Offence Level”. When a person is accused of an espionage crime, the concerned authorities calculate different factors to come up with a certain point level that will inform the sentence.

For instance, disseminating sensitive security information to foreign governments to have a base offense level of 37. The level can be increased to 42 if the information is regarded as very sensitive.

Limitations of espionage statutes

Despite the fact that the Unites States Code gives a 5-year statute limitation for most of the federal crimes, the statute limitation can’t be a stumbling block for the prosecution of an espionage case.

Legal scholars and constitutional experts concur that espionage cases can be prosecuted for at least 10 years after the crime was committed.

Examples of espionage cases

Espionage cases were rarely heard of in the past. However, prosecutions for espionage crimes have become commonplace after the 9/11 terrorist attack.

For example, is early 2010 the Obama Administration charged six federal employees for talking to the media about projects related to national security in violation of the secrecy code.

Several other organizations and individuals such as WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden have also been accused and charged for espionage-related crimes. Snowden managed to flee from prosecution and is believed to be living in Russia.

In a nutshell, espionage is considered a serious crime in the United States. Laws governing espionage became more visible after the 9/11 attack.

The federal government has tightened most of these rules to protect citizens from both domestic and external aggressors

FREE CONSULTATION

Testimonials

Spodek Law Group have offered me excellent support and advice thru a very difficult time. I feel I've dealt with someone who truly cares and wants the best outcome for you and yours. I'm extremely grateful for all the help Spodek Law Group has offered me. I can't recommend them enough.

~ David Bruce

Spodek Law Group was incredibly professional and has given me the best advice I could wish for. They had been helpful and empathetic to my stressful situation. Would highly recommend Spodek Law Group to anyone I meet.

~ Rowlin Garcia

Best service I ever had. Todd is absolutely class personified. You are in the safest hands with spodek. They have their clients interest in mind.

~ Francis Anim

Spodek Law Group

White Glove Service

We provide superior service, excellent results, at a level superior to other criminal defense law firms. Regardless of where your case is, nationwide, we can help you.

Get In Touch

Schedule Your Consultation

Los Angeles

555 W 5th St 35th floor, Los Angeles, CA 90013

212-300-5196



get directions

Queens

35-37 36th St, 2nd Floor Astoria, NY 11106

212-300-5196



get directions

NYC

85 Broad St 30th Floor, New York, NY 10004

212-300-5196



get directions

Brooklyn

195 Montague St., 14th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201

212-300-5196



get directions

Call Us