Which Federal Crimes Carry a Life Sentence?

Posted on in Federal Crimes

Chicago federal criminal defense attorneyLife imprisonment without the possibility of parole is all but the worst-case scenario for those charged with a serious federal crime. Some may even say that they fear spending the rest of their life in prison more than they fear the death penalty. Fortunately, these sentences are strikingly rare. Less than 0.5% of federal inmates are serving a life sentence. This harsh punishment is typically reserved for the most serious offenders, convicted of major felonies. 

If you are facing serious federal charges, your best bet is to find a highly skilled criminal defense lawyer with experience in the federal courts who can fight to avoid a conviction in the first place. 

Which Convictions Can Lead to a Life Sentence?

There are some crimes, like multiple homicides, that you might expect a life sentence to result from. Others may surprise you. Federal felonies that could land you in prison for life include: 

  • Drug trafficking - This is actually the most common offense for which life imprisonment is imposed. This crime is considered dangerous. Introducing narcotics into an area can lead to a significant increase in both crime and overdose deaths. This crime is hardly victimless. 
  • Guns - Crimes related to firearm violations is the next most common reason those convicted of federal crimes are sentenced to life in prison. Firearms trafficking is also extremely dangerous not just for those involved, but for the community. Many trafficked guns end up in the hands of those who will use them to commit other crimes. 
  • Murder - Unsurprisingly, those convicted of homicide could be considered so dangerous that the court finds it best to keep them behind bars forever. 
  • White-collar crime - In particular, extortion and racketeering can land professionals in prison for life. These financial crimes are treated as very serious due to the impact they can have on victims. 

It is important to note that life sentences are generally only used for the most serious forms of these offenses. Buying cannabis in a legal state and selling it in an illegal state does fit the definition of drug trafficking, but this conduct is unlikely to be considered serious enough to trigger that much prison time. However, a gang member moving kilos of heroin between states or into the country may be considered a serious enough offender that the court may be reluctant to release them from prison. 

Call an Illinois Federal Crimes Lawyer

Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney is experienced at defending those accused of federal crimes. Our Chicago federal crimes attorneys know the ins and outs of the federal justice system and are prepared to defend a wide variety of federal charges. Call 312-629-0669 for a free consultation. 



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