Death Penalty for Aircraft Piracy
A death which results from an aircraft piracy need not have
occurred within the special aircraft jurisdiction in order to
subject the perpetrator to enhanced penalties. All that is
required is that the death be proximately caused by or "result
from" the perpetrator's efforts to implement the hijacking.
See United States v. Busic, 592 F.2d 13, 21 (2d Cir.
1978); 49 U.S.C. § 46502.|
As a result of the decision in Furman v. Georgia, 408
U.S. 238 (1972), and United States v. Bohie, 346 F. Supp.
577 (N.D. N.Y. 1972), striking down the death penalty provision of
a former version of the air piracy statute on constitutional
grounds, Congress enacted a death penalty for hijackers, the former
49 U.S.C. § 46503 (previously 49 U.S.C. App. §
On September 13, 1994, the special death penalty procedures for
the aircraft piracy offense, then codified at 49 U.S.C.§
46503, were repealed when the death penalty provisions for numerous
federal offenses were established in Title 18, United States Code,
by Title VI (the "Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994") of the
Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. See
Pub. L. 103-322, Title VI, § 60003(b), 108 Stat. 1970. Under
that statute, death during the commission of or attempted
commission of an aircraft hijacking is a statutory aggravating
factor. See 18 U.S.C. § 3592(c)(1).
The death penalty shall not be recommended without the approval
of the Attorney General. See USAM
9-10.000 (capital crimes) for the procedures that must be
followed when a penalty of death may be applicable. Advice
relating to death penalty approval and litigation is available
from the Capital Crimes Unit, at (202) 353-7172.
[updated August 1999] [cited in USAM 9-63.100]