18 U.S.C.
United States Code, 2011 Edition
Title 18 - CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
PART I - CRIMES
CHAPTER 81 - PIRACY AND PRIVATEERING
From the U.S. Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov

CHAPTER 81—PIRACY AND PRIVATEERING

Sec.
1651.
Piracy under law of nations.
1652.
Citizens as pirates.
1653.
Aliens as pirates.
1654.
Arming or serving on privateers.
1655.
Assault on commander as piracy.
1656.
Conversion or surrender of vessel.
1657.
Corruption of seamen and confederating with pirates.
1658.
Plunder of distressed vessel.
1659.
Attack to plunder vessel.
1660.
Receipt of pirate property.
1661.
Robbery ashore.

        

Historical and Revision Notes

In the light of far-reaching developments in the field of international law and foreign relations, the law of piracy is deemed to require a fundamental reconsideration and complete restatement, perhaps resulting in drastic changes by way of modification and expansion. Such a task may be regarded as beyond the scope of this project. The present revision is, therefore, confined to the making of some obvious and patent corrections. It is recommended, however, that at some opportune time in the near future, the subject of piracy be entirely reconsidered and the law bearing on it modified and restated in accordance with the needs of the times.

§1651. Piracy under law of nations

Whoever, on the high seas, commits the crime of piracy as defined by the law of nations, and is afterwards brought into or found in the United States, shall be imprisoned for life.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 774.)

Historical and Revision Notes

Based on title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed., §481 (Mar. 4, 1909, ch. 321, §290, 35 Stat. 1145).

§1652. Citizens as pirates

Whoever, being a citizen of the United States, commits any murder or robbery, or any act of hostility against the United States, or against any citizen thereof, on the high seas, under color of any commission from any foreign prince, or state, or on pretense of authority from any person, is a pirate, and shall be imprisoned for life.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 774.)

Historical and Revision Notes

Based on title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed., §495 (Mar. 4, 1909, ch. 321, §304, 35 Stat. 1147).

Words “Notwithstanding the pretense of such authority,” were omitted as surplusage.

§1653. Aliens as pirates

Whoever, being a citizen or subject of any foreign state, is found and taken on the sea making war upon the United States, or cruising against the vessels and property thereof, or of the citizens of the same, contrary to the provisions of any treaty existing between the United States and the state of which the offender is a citizen or subject, when by such treaty such acts are declared to be piracy, is a pirate, and shall be imprisoned for life.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 774.)

Historical and Revision Notes

Based on title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed., §496 (Mar. 4, 1909, ch. 321, §305, 35 Stat. 1147.)

Minor change was made in phraseology.

§1654. Arming or serving on privateers

Whoever, being a citizen of the United States, without the limits thereof, fits out and arms, or attempts to fit out and arm or is concerned in furnishing, fitting out, or arming any private vessel of war or privateer, with intent that such vessel shall be employed to cruise or commit hostilities upon the citizens of the United States or their property; or

Whoever takes the command of or enters on board of any such vessel with such intent; or

Whoever purchases any interest in any such vessel with a view to share in the profits thereof—

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 774; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, §330016(1)(L), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)

Historical and Revision Notes

Based on title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed., §494 (Mar. 4, 1909, ch. 321, §303, 35 Stat. 1147).

Reference to persons procuring or aiding was omitted as unnecessary in view of definition of “principal” in section 2 of this title.

Mandatory punishment provisions were rephrased in the alternative.

The last sentence relating to venue was omitted as unnecessary in view of the general provision to the same effect in section 3238 of this title.

Minor changes were made in phraseology and arrangement.

Amendments

1994—Pub. L. 103–322 substituted “fined under this title” for “fined not more than $10,000” in last par.

§1655. Assault on commander as piracy

Whoever, being a seaman, lays violent hands upon his commander, to hinder and prevent his fighting in defense of his vessel or the goods intrusted to him, is a pirate, and shall be imprisoned for life.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 774.)

Historical and Revision Notes

Based on title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed., §485 (Mar. 4, 1909, ch. 321, §294, 35 Stat. 1146).

A minor verbal change was made.

§1656. Conversion or surrender of vessel

Whoever, being a captain or other officer or mariner of a vessel upon the high seas or on any other waters within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States, piratically or feloniously runs away with such vessel, or with any goods or merchandise thereof, to the value of $50 or over; or

Whoever yields up such vessel voluntarily to any pirate—

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 774; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, §330016(1)(L), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)

Historical and Revision Notes

Based on title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed., §497 (Mar. 4, 1909, ch. 321, §306, 35 Stat. 1148).

Minor changes were made in phraseology.

Amendments

1994—Pub. L. 103–322 substituted “fined under this title” for “fined not more than $10,000” in last par.

§1657. Corruption of seamen and confederating with pirates

Whoever attempts to corrupt any commander, master, officer, or mariner to yield up or to run away with any vessel, or any goods, wares, or merchandise, or to turn pirate or to go over to or confederate with pirates, or in any wise to trade with any pirate, knowing him to be such; or

Whoever furnishes such pirate with any ammunition, stores, or provisions of any kind; or

Whoever fits out any vessel knowingly and, with a design to trade with, supply, or correspond with any pirate or robber upon the seas; or

Whoever consults, combines, confederates, or corresponds with any pirate or robber upon the seas, knowing him to be guilty of any piracy or robbery; or

Whoever, being a seaman, confines the master of any vessel—

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 775; Pub. L. 101–647, title XXV, §2527(b), Nov. 29, 1990, 104 Stat. 4877; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, §330016(1)(H), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)

Historical and Revision Notes

Based on title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed., §498 (Mar. 4, 1909, ch. 321, §307, 35 Stat. 1148).

Mandatory punishment provisions were rephrased in the alternative.

Minor changes were made in phraseology.

Amendments

1994—Pub. L. 103–322 substituted “fined under this title” for “fined not more than $1,000” in last par.

1990—Pub. L. 101–647, which directed insertion of “section 11, 12, or 13 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act” after “consideration of any action brought under”, could not be executed because the words “consideration of any action brought under” did not appear.

§1658. Plunder of distressed vessel

(a) Whoever plunders, steals, or destroys any money, goods, merchandise, or other effects from or belonging to any vessel in distress, or wrecked, lost, stranded, or cast away, upon the sea, or upon any reef, shoal, bank, or rocks of the sea, or in any other place within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

(b) Whoever willfully obstructs the escape of any person endeavoring to save his life from such vessel, or the wreck thereof; or

Whoever holds out or shows any false light, or extinguishes any true light, with intent to bring any vessel sailing upon the sea into danger or distress or shipwreck—

Shall be imprisoned not less than ten years and may be imprisoned for life.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 775; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, §330016(1)(K), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)

Historical and Revision Notes

Based on title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed., §488 (Mar. 4, 1909, ch. 321, §297, 35 Stat. 1146).

Mandatory punishment provision in subsection (a) was rephrased in the alternative.

Minor changes were made in phraseology.

Amendments

1994—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 103–322 substituted “fined under this title” for “fined not more than $5,000”.

§1659. Attack to plunder vessel

Whoever, upon the high seas or other waters within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States, by surprise or open force, maliciously attacks or sets upon any vessel belonging to another, with an intent unlawfully to plunder the same, or to despoil any owner thereof of any moneys, goods, or merchandise laden on board thereof, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 775; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, §330016(1)(K), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)

Historical and Revision Notes

Based on title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed., §489 (Mar. 4, 1909, ch. 321, §298, 35 Stat. 1147).

Mandatory punishment provisions were rephrased in the alternative.

Amendments

1994—Pub. L. 103–322 substituted “fined under this title” for “fined not more than $5,000”.

§1660. Receipt of pirate property

Whoever, without lawful authority, receives or takes into custody any vessel, goods, or other property, feloniously taken by any robber or pirate against the laws of the United States, knowing the same to have been feloniously taken, shall be imprisoned not more than ten years.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 775.)

Historical and Revision Notes

Based on title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed., §552 (Mar. 4, 1909, ch. 321, §334, 35 Stat. 1152).

Provision relating to concealment of pirate and words “is an accessory after the fact to such robbery or piracy” were omitted in view of definitive section 3 of this title.

§1661. Robbery ashore

Whoever, being engaged in any piratical cruise or enterprise, or being of the crew of any piratical vessel, lands from such vessel and commits robbery on shore, is a pirate, and shall be imprisoned for life.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 775.)

Historical and Revision Notes

Based on title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed., §493 (Mar. 4, 1909, ch. 321, §302, 35 Stat. 1147).

Transposition of several words was made.