Ohio espionage laws relate to a broad category of federal crimes defined by Chapter 37 in the 18 USC. Typically, espionage involves obtaining secrets or private information from a privileged location, then sharing that information with a foreign entity. The idea is to offer insightful information from within the United States government to other agencies or entities that might use that information in acts of terrorism or violence.
The CIA, or Central Intelligence Agency, is responsible for the majority of the law enforcement efforts related to espionage, meaning that convictions in Ohio frequently lead to federal charges. Since 9/11 took place, the harshness of prosecution in espionage cases has risen significantly, and the complex nature of espionage often means that it’s practically impossible to launch a good defense.
Laws and Penalties
The Ohio statutes and federal statutes provide for a wide variety of different charges and penalties for espionage, depending on the type of information that was shared and the value of that information in terms of security for the country. The Espionage Act of 1917 dictates that strict penalties must be used on any individual who engage in spying activities to aid foreign enemies or impede US military efforts. Charges in espionage cases throughout Ohio might include:
- Concealing or harboring an individual who has commited, or will commit an offense under espionage laws
- Transmitting or gathering defense information including data about stations, bases, vehicles, and other national security assets
- Delivering or gathering information to foreign governments or agents that might have an impact on the safety of the United States
- Sketching or photographing defense installations, which are then sold to people who should not have that information
- Disclosing information that is classified to a person without rightful legal access to that information
Similar to many other federal crimes, cases of espionage in Ohio and across the US are evaluated according to a point system. Each offense comes with a basic offense level, and a series of factors can be used to add points to the offense that informs the overall penalty or sentence. For example, if the information is considered as top secret, then transmitting the said defense information to a foreign government has a point score of 42.
Under Code 793, it is possible to receive ten years in prison if you lose or gather defense information. On the other hand, if the accused are convicted of gathering and delivering information to a foreign government then they could be sentenced to life in prison. Economic espionage might result in a fine of up to $5 million, and 15 years in prison.
The nature of espionage laws makes it very difficult for people accused of this crime to defend themselves successful against charges. Often, the best method of defense is one that suggests that the people accused of espionage had no idea that the information they were sharing was privileged. On the other hand, it is also possible to suggest that the information was given by accident, but this is rarely a successful defense. Other defenses may include:
- A justification defense – in which the lawyer agrees that the defendant is responsible for the crime, but underlines that there were incredibly good reasons for committing that crime.
- An entrapment defense – It is possible to suggest that the accused were coerced into committing a crime or sharing information that they would not have otherwise shared. The idea is to prove that the act was committed under duress.
- Excuse defenses – Sometimes, lawyers attempt to give an excuse for the defendant who committed a crime, such as insanity, or diminished capacity.
The very serious nature of espionage cases in Ohio and across the United States can mean that constructing a successful defense is very difficult. In order to achieve the outcome of a case being dropped or set aside, it is essential to provide a wide range of evidence supporting your claim as a defendant, or prove that you are not guilty of the crime in the first place.
Statute of Limitations
For the vast majority of federal crimes across the United States, the federal statute USC 3282 dictates that a five-year statute of limitations should be provided. However, this statute doesn’t always stand in espionage prosecution cases as many legal scholars agree that acts of espionage might be brought to prosecution for a minimum of ten years following the alleged act. In some cases, extenuating factors might even allow for prosecution after a longer period of time.
Ohio Espionage Cases
- Efforts underway to release Ohio man sentenced to hard labor in North Korea for espionage and subversion
- Hydrologist working for the National Weather Station in Wilmington accused of espionage
- Navy officer accused of espionage
- Four-count indictment in Cleveland against Takashi Okamoto and Hiroaki Serizawa for economic espionag