Murder is the unlawful and unjustified killing of a human being with malice aforethought. Malice can be express or implied. Implied malice is proven by acts that involve reckless indifference to human life or by a death that occurs during the commission of certain felonies. Life sentencing for murder in the United States has a mean of 349 months (29 years one month) and a median of 480 months (40 years). However, in some states, the sentencing is deemed to end only upon the convict’s death. In other words, the sentence is imposed on the convict throughout his life time. These sentences are termed natural life and/or life without the possibility of parole.
The State in which the murder occurred has jurisdiction over the trial and prosecution. In cases where the victim is a federal official, an ambassador, consul or other foreign official under the protection of the United States, or if the crime took place on federal property or involved crossing state lines, then the Federal Government also has jurisdiction. The Federal Government will also have jurisdiction if the murder is committed in a manner that substantially affects interstate commerce or national security. Federal jurisdiction is exclusive if the murder is committed in the District of Columbia, in U.S.-flagged merchant vessels in international waters, or in a U.S. military base. In cases where a murder involves both state and federal jurisdiction, the offender can generally be tried and punished separately for each crime.