David L. Hall

Cultural Property Prosecutions

March 24, 2016 Published Work
United States Attorneys' Bulletin


This article will cover two topics: (1) potential charges to consider in cultural property prosecutions, and (2) authentication and appraisal of cultural property. It is based on a presentation for "The Prosecution of Cultural Property Crime," an online training program created in conjunction with the U.S. State Department that is available on LearnDOJ for Assistant United States Attorneys who have such cases.

Overview of potential charges to consider

Many statutes apply to cultural property investigations and prosecutions. They range from stolen property laws of general applicability to more tailored statutes relating to specific types of cultural property.

Probably the most fundamental statute of general applicability is the National Stolen Property Act (NSPA), and, in particular, the portion of that act that governs interstate transportation of stolen propety, 18 U.S.C §§ 2314-15. Among the more specific statues are those designed to protect Native American cultural propety. See Archaeological Resources Protection Act, 16 U.S.C § 470 (2015); Illegal Trafficking in Native American Human Remains and Cultural Items, 18 U.S.C § 1170 (2015); Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, 25 U.S.C. § 3001 (2015). Another charge of relatively narrow scope is Theft of Government Property, 18 U.S.C. §§ 641 and 2114, which applies when the stolen property is owned by the U.S. Government

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