Federal criminal law says that you are guilty of an offense if you enlist to serve in an armed force against the U.S. A conviction of this crime can result in serious penalties, including years in federal prison and fines of over $200,000. Please contact a skilled criminal defense attorney now if you or a loved one is being charged with a federal crime.

What is “Enlistment to Serve Against the U.S.” Under Federal Law?

18 U.S.C. 2390 is the federal statute that sets forth the crime of enlisting to serve against the U.S. Per this law, you commit an offense if you enlist or encourage others to enlist in armed forces that operate against the U.S. The purpose of the law is to protect the U.S. from threats to its national security.

Please note that this law has not been commonly used in recent years to prosecute people within the U.S. However, in light of the January 6th riots at the U.S. Capitol and recruiting efforts of paramilitary groups, prosecutors may turn to this law more often to file charges against militants.

What are the Penalties?

A conviction under 18 U.S.C. 2390 is punishable by:

  • Imprisonment in federal prison for up to three years, and/or
  • Fines of up to $250,000.

Please keep in mind that these penalties are in addition to any other penalties that you may receive for other charges committed in the course of an enlistment against the U.S. For example, if you are penalized for an enlistment charge, and also a treason charge, then you would face penalties for both crimes.

Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?

Yes. You have the right to challenge an enlistment charge with a legal defense. A common defense is for your criminal defense attorney to show that there was a mistake of fact. This showing requires proof that you believed your enlistment with an organization was for a legitimate purpose, and not to operate against the U.S.

Another popular defense is to show that you enlisted to serve against the U.S. under duress. Under this defense, your criminal lawyer attempts to show that you only enlisted with an organization out of threats of harm against you or your family. You essentially defend against a charge by showing that you had no other choice but to enlist against the U.S. because you feared for your safety.

A final defense is for your attorney to show that you were entrapped. Entrapment is a legal defense often raised if you were charged as part of an undercover sting operation. The defense says that you only committed a crime because a police officer or federal agent lured you into doing so. It is an acceptable defense provided that you can show that you only enlisted because of the entrapment.

Contact Black & Askerov for Help

While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge an 18 U.S.C. 2390 charge, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 30 years of combined experience defending clients on various criminal charges under federal law. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers also have the skill and commitment that makes all the difference in these cases. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!