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Crimes Act

April 30, 1790

In the Crimes Act of 1790, Congress created the first comprehensive list of federal offenses, naming 23 separate crimes. Although seven of the listed offenses, including treason, murder, and piracy, were punishable by death, the Act represented a move away from the colonial-era tendency to make the death penalty mandatory for all serious crimes. Thirteen of the offenses were punishable by prison terms of up to one, three, or seven years; for the remainder, the Act prescribed fines or corporal punishment, or left the sentence to the discretion of the court.

See also:

Criminal Jurisdiction