United States attorney general Eric Holder says he will seek the death penalty against the surviving suspect accused of carrying out the Boston Marathon attacks if he's convicted.
Mr Holder said in a statement: "The nature of the conduct at issue and the resultant harm compel this decision."
Dhozkhar Tsarnaev is charged with planting bombs at the race finishing line last April, killing three people and injuring more than 260 others. Mr Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty and no trial date has been set.
Seventeen of 30 charges against the 20-year-old - including using a weapon of mass destruction to kill - carry the possibility of capital punishment, the BBC reported.
Prosecutors allege that Mr Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, built and planted two pressure cooker bombs near the finish line of the marathon.
The brothers lived in the Massachusetts town of Cambridge, home of Harvard University, after emigrating to the US in 2002 from the Caucasus region of southern Russia.
Officials believe they set off the bombs in retaliation against the US for its military action in Muslim countries.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed during a shootout with police days after the bombing. The younger brother was wounded and was eventually found inside a boat in a residential neighbourhood.