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CITE

    18 USC Sec. 247                                             01/05/2009

EXPCITE

    TITLE 18 - CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
    PART I - CRIMES
    CHAPTER 13 - CIVIL RIGHTS

HEAD

    Sec. 247. Damage to religious property; obstruction of persons in
      the free exercise of religious beliefs

STATUTE

      (a) Whoever, in any of the circumstances referred to in
    subsection (b) of this section -
        (1) intentionally defaces, damages, or destroys any religious
      real property, because of the religious character of that
      property, or attempts to do so; or
        (2) intentionally obstructs, by force or threat of force, any
      person in the enjoyment of that person's free exercise of
      religious beliefs, or attempts to do so;
    shall be punished as provided in subsection (d).
      (b) The circumstances referred to in subsection (a) are that the
    offense is in or affects interstate or foreign commerce.
      (c) Whoever intentionally defaces, damages, or destroys any
    religious real property because of the race, color, or ethnic
    characteristics of any individual associated with that religious
    property, or attempts to do so, shall be punished as provided in
    subsection (d).
      (d) The punishment for a violation of subsection (a) of this
    section shall be -
        (1) if death results from acts committed in violation of this
      section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to
      kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit
      aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, a fine in
      accordance with this title and imprisonment for any term of years
      or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death;
        (2) if bodily injury results to any person, including any
      public safety officer performing duties as a direct or proximate
      result of conduct prohibited by this section, and the violation
      is by means of fire or an explosive, a fine under this title or
      imprisonment for not more that 40 years, or both;
        (3) if bodily injury to any person, including any public safety
      officer performing duties as a direct or proximate result of
      conduct prohibited by this section, results from the acts
      committed in violation of this section or if such acts include
      the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon,
      explosives, or fire, a fine in accordance with this title and
      imprisonment for not more than 20 years, or both; and
        (4) in any other case, a fine in accordance with this title and
      imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.
      (e) No prosecution of any offense described in this section shall
    be undertaken by the United States except upon the certification in
    writing of the Attorney General or his designee that in his
    judgment a prosecution by the United States is in the public
    interest and necessary to secure substantial justice.
      (f) As used in this section, the term "religious real property"
    means any church, synagogue, mosque, religious cemetery, or other
    religious real property, including fixtures or religious objects
    contained within a place of religious worship.
      (g) No person shall be prosecuted, tried, or punished for any
    noncapital offense under this section unless the indictment is
    found or the information is instituted not later than 7 years after
    the date on which the offense was committed.

SOURCE

    (Added Pub. L. 100-346, Sec. 1, June 24, 1988, 102 Stat. 644;
    amended Pub. L. 103-322, title VI, Sec. 60006(d), title XXXII, Sec.
    320103(d), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 1971, 2110; Pub. L. 104-155,
    Sec. 3, July 3, 1996, 110 Stat. 1392; Pub. L. 104-294, title VI,
    Secs. 601(c)(3), 605(r), Oct. 11, 1996, 110 Stat. 3499, 3511; Pub.
    L. 107-273, div. B, title IV, Sec. 4002(c)(1), (e)(4), Nov. 2,
    2002, 116 Stat. 1808, 1810.)

AMENDMENTS

      2002 - Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 107-273, Sec. 4002(c)(1), repealed
    amendment by Pub. L. 107-273, Sec. 605(r). See 1996 Amendment note
    below.
      Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 107-273, Sec. 4002(e)(4), made technical
    correction to directory language of Pub. L. 104-294, Sec.
    601(c)(3). See 1996 Amendment note below.
      1996 - Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 104-155, Sec. 3(1), substituted
    "subsection (d)" for "subsection (c) of this section" in concluding
    provisions.
      Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 104-155, Sec. 3(3), added subsec. (b) and
    struck out former subsec. (b) which read as follows: "The
    circumstances referred to in subsection (a) are that -
        "(1) in committing the offense, the defendant travels in
      interstate or foreign commerce, or uses a facility or
      instrumentality of interstate or foreign commerce in interstate
      or foreign commerce; and
        "(2) in the case of an offense under subsection (a)(1), the
      loss resulting from the defacement, damage, or destruction is
      more than $10,000."
      Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 104-155, Sec. 3(2), added subsec. (c).
    Former subsec. (c) redesignated (d).
      Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 104-294, Sec. 605(r), which directed the
    substitution of "certification" for "notification" in subsec. (d),
    was repealed by Pub. L. 107-273, Sec. 4002(c)(1).
      Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 104-155, Sec. 3(2), redesignated subsec. (c)
    as (d). Former subsec. (d) redesignated (e).
      Subsec. (d)(2). Pub. L. 104-155, Sec. 3(4)(C), added par. (2).
    Former par. (2) redesignated (3).
      Subsec. (d)(3). Pub. L. 104-155, Sec. 3(4)(A), (B), redesignated
    par. (2) as (3), inserted "to any person, including any public
    safety officer performing duties as a direct or proximate result of
    conduct prohibited by this section," after "bodily injury" and
    substituted "20 years" for "ten years". Former par. (3)
    redesignated (4).
      Subsec. (d)(4). Pub. L. 104-155, Sec. 3(4)(B), redesignated par.
    (3) as (4).
      Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 104-294, Sec. 601(c)(3), as amended by Pub.
    L. 107-273, Sec. 4002(e)(4), substituted "certification" for
    "notification".
      Pub. L. 104-155, Sec. 3(2), redesignated subsec. (d) as (e).
    Former subsec. (e) redesignated (f).
      Subsec. (f). Pub. L. 104-155, Sec. 3(2), (5), redesignated
    subsec. (e) as (f), inserted ", including fixtures or religious
    objects contained within a place of religious worship" before the
    period, and substituted "religious real property" for "religious
    property" in two places.
      Subsec. (g). Pub. L. 104-155, Sec. 3(6), added subsec. (g).
      1994 - Subsec. (c)(1). Pub. L. 103-322, Sec. 320103(d)(1),
    inserted "from acts committed in violation of this section or if
    such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated
    sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an
    attempt to kill" after "death results".
      Pub. L. 103-322, Sec. 60006(d), inserted ", or may be sentenced
    to death" after "or both".
      Subsec. (c)(2). Pub. L. 103-322, Sec. 320103(d)(2), struck out
    "serious" before "bodily" and inserted "from the acts committed in
    violation of this section or if such acts include the use,
    attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives,
    or fire" after "injury results".
      Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 103-322, Sec. 320103(d)(3), amended subsec.
    (e) generally. Prior to amendment, subsec. (e) read as follows: "As
    used in this section -
        "(1) the term 'religious real property' means any church,
      synagogue, mosque, religious cemetery, or other religious real
      property; and
        "(2) the term 'serious bodily injury' means bodily injury that
      involves a substantial risk of death, unconsciousness, extreme
      physical pain, protracted and obvious disfigurement, or
      protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member,
      organ, or mental faculty."
                     EFFECTIVE DATE OF 2002 AMENDMENT
      Pub. L. 107-273, div. B, title IV, Sec. 4002(c)(1), Nov. 2, 2002,
    116 Stat. 1808, provided that the amendment made by section
    4002(c)(1) is effective Oct. 11, 1996.
      Pub. L. 107-273, div. B, title IV, Sec. 4002(e)(4), Nov. 2, 2002,
    116 Stat. 1810, provided that the amendment made by section
    4002(e)(4) is effective Oct. 11, 1996.
                          CONGRESSIONAL FINDINGS
      Section 2 of Pub. L. 104-155 provided that: "The Congress finds
    the following:
        "(1) The incidence of arson or other destruction or vandalism
      of places of religious worship, and the incidence of violent
      interference with an individual's lawful exercise or attempted
      exercise of the right of religious freedom at a place of
      religious worship pose a serious national problem.
        "(2) The incidence of arson of places of religious worship has
      recently increased, especially in the context of places of
      religious worship that serve predominantly African-American
      congregations.
        "(3) Changes in Federal law are necessary to deal properly with
      this problem.
        "(4) Although local jurisdictions have attempted to respond to
      the challenges posed by such acts of destruction or damage to
      religious property, the problem is sufficiently serious,
      widespread, and interstate in scope to warrant Federal
      intervention to assist State and local jurisdictions.
        "(5) Congress has authority, pursuant to the Commerce Clause of
      the Constitution, to make acts of destruction or damage to
      religious property a violation of Federal law.
        "(6) Congress has authority, pursuant to section 2 of the 13th
      amendment to the Constitution, to make actions of private
      citizens motivated by race, color, or ethnicity that interfere
      with the ability of citizens to hold or use religious property
      without fear of attack, violations of Federal criminal law."
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