CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Days after authorities in Mexico issued a warrant in the death investigation of Shanquella Robinson, the 25-year-old Charlotte woman who mysteriously died while on vacation with a group of what she thought was a group of her friends, many people are wondering if United States authorities can intervene and prosecute the case.
Robinson died in late October while in Cabo. Robinson's parents claimed the group told them Shanquella Robinson died from alcohol poisoning, but a video surfaced that apparently showed her being assaulted by someone on the trip. An autopsy later confirmed Robinson died from a broken neck and spinal cord injury.
Here's what the VERIFY team discovered when it comes to the investigation of cases involving Americans in other countries.
If a crime happened in a different country, can the United States prosecute the case?
Yes, it is possible for the U.S. to prosecute a case that happened in another country, but only if it involves American citizens.
WHAT WE FOUND
The United States Code of Federal Regulations states if, "A person being a national of the United States, kills or attempts to kill a national of the United States while such a national is outside the United States, but within the jurisdiction of another country shall be punished."
"This statute expressly empowers our federal government to prosecute American citizens that have been involved in the murder of another American," Mauney said.
By simply looking at the statute, WCNC Charlotte can verify that yes, it's possible for the U.S. to prosecute, even if the crime happened outside the country, but only if it's a crime involving Americans.
However, there are some hoops to jump through, Mauney claimed.
"There has to be written approval by the United States attorney general and it has to be looked at and approved by the Department of Justice," Mauney explained.
That's the first hoop. The second, according to Mauney, is the U.S. can't prosecute a crime if the same charge has already been adjudicated in the country that has jurisdiction.
"If the foreign country has already prosecuted someone for the same conduct and the same type of crime, then it would not allow the United States to prosecute the same individual again," Mauney said.
However, the U.S. could prosecute for other crimes associated with the main offense.
VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text us at 704-329-3600 or visit VERIFY.