Charlottesville as a Federal Criminal Case

08.18.17 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The car attack in Charlottesville that killed Heather Heyer and wounded many others has already been charged by the State of Virginia as a case of second degree murder. But the attack may also end up as a federal case, particularly since Attorney General Sessions announced a federal investigation into the matter last Monday.

“For both constitutional and practical reasons, law enforcement is first and foremost a state responsibility,” a new CRS brief explains. “Nevertheless, the protection of civil rights has been thought to be an important federal concern.”

“It’s too early to tell what, if any, prosecutable federal offenses the Justice Department’s investigation might discover. However, various civil rights and terrorist offenses may be implicated.” The CRS brief surveys potential federal crimes that might have been committed in the Charlottesville case, including domestic terrorism and civil rights violations.

“There is no constitutional impediment to both state and federal prosecution for the same misconduct, although prosecution in both forums occurs only infrequently.” See Charlottesville Car Crash Attack: Possibility of Federal Criminal Prosecution, CRS Legal Sidebar, August 15, 2017.

Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

Sifting Domestic Terrorism from Hate Crime and Homegrown Violent Extremism, CRS Insight, August 14, 2017

For First Time, FinCEN Imposes Penalty on Foreign-Based Virtual Currency Exchange for Violations of Anti-Money Laundering Laws, CRS Legal Sidebar, August 17, 2017

Foreign Money and U.S. Elections, CRS Legal Sidebar, August 17, 2017

Medicare: Insolvency Projections, updated August 16, 2017

Inspector General Community Launches Oversight.gov to Increase Accessibility to Reports, CRS Insight, August 15, 2017

Trespassing: The Leading Cause of Rail-Related Fatalities, CRS Insight, August 15, 2017

EPA’s 2015 Ozone Air Quality Standards, updated August 15, 2017

The Net Neutrality Debate: Access to Broadband Networks, updated August 15, 2017

The Debt Limit Since 2011, updated August 9, 2017

Productivity Growth Across the Economy, CRS Insight, August 8, 2017

Trump Administration Releases First Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, CRS Insight, August 7, 2017

U.S. Circuit and District Court Judges: Profile of Select Characteristics, updated August 1, 2017

Global Engagement Center: Background and Issues, CRS Insight, August 4, 2017

Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and U.S. Response, updated August 10, 2017

Yemen: Cholera Outbreak, CRS Insight, August 2, 2017

China-India Border Tensions at Doka La, CRS Insight, August 9, 2017

Paris Agreement on Climate Change: U.S. Letter to United Nations, CRS Insight, August 8, 2017

The Open Skies Treaty: Issues in the Current Debate, CRS Insight, August 10, 2017

Navy Littoral Combat Ship/Frigate (LCS/FFGX) Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated August 11, 2017

Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background and Issues for Congress, updated August 15, 2017

Navy Columbia Class (Ohio Replacement) Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN[X]) Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated August 8, 2017

Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated August 14, 2017