Treason Definition in Legal Terms

The Court interpreted the other constitutional offence of high treason in Cramer v. United States (1945) equally narrowly. This case involved another notorious incident in American history: the case of the Nazi saboteur. Cramer was charged with treason for allegedly aiding German soldiers who secretly infiltrated American soil during World War II. In reviewing Cramer`s conviction for treason, the court said a person could only be convicted of treason if he clung to an enemy and gave him “help and comfort.” As the court explained: “A citizen may intellectually or emotionally favor the enemy and harbor sympathies or disloyal beliefs towards the politics or interests of this country, but as long as he does not give aid and comfort to the enemy, there is no treason. On the other hand, a citizen can take measures that help and comfort the enemy – give a speech criticizing the government or opposing its actions, profiteers, strikes in defenses or essential works, and the hundreds of other things that affect our cohesion and reduce our strength – but if there is no loyalty to the enemy, If there is no intention to betray, There is no betrayal. In other words, the Constitution requires both concrete action and intent to betray the nation before a citizen can be convicted of treason; Expressing treacherous thoughts or intentions is not enough. Finnish law distinguishes between two types of high treason: maanpetos, treason in wartime, and valtiopetos, attack on the constitutional order. The terms maanpetos and valtiopetos are informally translated as high treason and high treason, respectively. Both are punishable by imprisonment and, if aggravated, life imprisonment. The Treason Act of 1695 enacted, among other things, a rule that treason could only be proved in a trial by the testimony of two witnesses of the same crime. Nearly a hundred years later, this rule was incorporated into the United States Constitution,[42] which requires two witnesses to the same manifest act. It also provided for a three-year period for charges of treason (with the exception of the assassination of the king), another rule imitated in some common law countries.

Under Article III, a person may wage war in the United States without using weapons, weapons or military equipment. Individuals who play only a peripheral role in a war conspiracy are still considered traitors under the Constitution if there is an armed rebellion against the United States. After the American Civil War, for example, all Confederate soldiers were vulnerable to treason charges, regardless of their role in the secession or Southern insurgency. However, no charges of treason were brought against these soldiers, as President Andrew Johnson decreed a universal amnesty. Thus, the drafters adopted two of the three formulations and phraseology of the English Statute of Treason,3 promulgated in 1350,3 but ostensibly omitted the term that defined treason as “encompassing or imagining the death of our Lord the King”,4 under which most of the English law of “constructive treason” had been developed.5 In addition to limiting the powers of Congress, 6 The clause also limits Congress` ability to readily prove the crime7 and its ability to define penalties.8 According to Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution, any person who makes war on the United States or associates it with its enemies by providing them with assistance and comfort has committed treason within the meaning of the Constitution. The term aid and comfort refers to any act that constitutes a betrayal of loyalty to the United States, such as providing enemies with weapons, troops, transportation, shelter, or classified information. When a subversive act tends to weaken U.S. power, attack enemies, or resist, help and comfort have been provided. The Constitution also limited the scope of the penalty for treason compared to English common law. The last clause of this article states that while Congress has general power to determine penalties for treason, it may engage in “blood corruption or confiscation only during the lifetime of the person convicted of treason.” “Corruption of blood” is a reference to English common law which, among other things, prohibited family members from receiving or inheriting property from a person convicted of treason. According to the Constitution, this penalty may not extend beyond the life of the person convicted of high treason.

The Constitution explicitly defines what constitutes treason against the United States and, most importantly, limits the criminal offense of treason to only two types of conduct: (1) “war” against the United States; or (2) “respect, abet, and comfort the enemies [of the United States].” While there haven`t been many treason prosecutions in American history — in fact, only one person has been charged with treason since 1954 — the Supreme Court has had the opportunity to further define what any type of treason entails.