Who Investigates Federal Crimes?

The Department of Justice leads all criminal investigations, including federal crimes. However, when it comes to the investigations of these crimes, the responsibility is handed to specialized focus agencies overseen by the Department of Justice.

The Importance of Investigating Federal Crimes

Investigating federal crimes is a vital aspect of ensuring public safety across the United States. As these crimes are typically large-scale violations that affect the public, it’s essential to pursue thorough investigations to ensure justice is served while maintaining protection and safety. Furthermore, these crimes are often associated with organized crime syndicates that operate varying levels of criminal activity.

These crimes are complex and often involve several jurisdictions both within the United States and internationally. These cases require a certain degree of specialized intervention, which is why federal investigative agencies are brought in, while collaborating with other law enforcement agencies and countries tied to the crime.

The Federal Crime Investigation Process

The federal investigation process may take years before formal charges are filed against an individual or organization. During this multi-faceted investigative process, federal investigative agencies will collect evidence to prove their case while exercising several investigative techniques, such as surveillance, undercover operations, search warrants, and beyond.

Once the federal investigative agency has concluded their investigation and has collected enough evidence against the person or organization in question, they will present their evidence to the United States Attorney’s Office, who will determine whether criminal charges will be pursued in the case.

Federal Investigative Agencies and Federal Prosecutors

Federal Investigative Agencies work closely with Federal Prosecutors. The Federal Prosecutor has the final say in the decisions made regarding whether charges will be brought on an individual or entity and if so, what level of charges will be brought. Federal Investigative Agencies will communicate with Federal Prosecutors throughout the investigation and preparation of the case in an effort to build and solidify their case against the party they suspect to have been involved with a federal crime.

Types of Federal Agencies

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There are many federal law enforcement agencies charged with investigating crimes but the eight normally encountered  are:

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF)
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
  • Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
  • Secret Service (USSS)
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  • US Postal Inspectors

Federal Bureau of Investigation

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, commonly referred to as the FBI, is the largest law enforcement agency in the United States. They are responsible for handling a vast array of crimes – investigating cases related to drug trafficking, civil rights violations, financial crimes, and kidnapping. They also handle counterterrorism and counterintelligence.

They work with state and local governments, as well as international police (INTERPOL) to conduct investigations on international criminals and national security threats. The FBI focuses on major criminals, handling notable cases such as the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing, or the investigations into the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

Drug Enforcement Agency

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is responsible for investigating and enforcing all matters related to federal drug laws. They handle large-scale cases with trafficking crimes that cross state lines or are international level. The DEA partners with state and local agencies as well as the FBI when collecting intelligence and investigating cases.

The DEA has been instrumental in the resolution of several high-profile drug trafficking crimes, including the investigation and conviction of the former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives

The ATF is responsible for crimes involving federal weapon charges, as well as the illegal interstate trafficking of tobacco and alcohol. These cases may include firearm trafficking, the illegal use or storage of explosives, and crossing state lines or international sectors with illegal alcohol or tobacco products. They are also responsible for bombing, arson, and terrorism cases.

The ATF has been involved in many notable moments in American history, from the days of illegal alcohol trafficking during the prohibition, to the 1993 Waco Siege on the Waco, Texas compound of David Koresh.

Internal Revenue Service

The Internal Revenue Service, also known as the IRS, oversees handling tax fraud, tax evasion, money laundering, and other federal tax code violations. They are known to work closely with the Securities and Exchange Commission as both agencies deal with matter involving tax code violations.

The IRS deals with everyday tax fraud cases carried out by normal people within our communities, as well as high-profile cases involving billionaire tax evaders, such as the investigation and conviction of American businesswoman Leona Helmsley, or the case of Al Capone’s tax evasion.

Securities and Exchange Commission

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was formed to regulate the investment markets in a way that is fair and transparent with the goal of protecting investors from fraudulency. Their area of jurisdiction spans across financial crimes committed by people or companies involved with investment funds, brokerage firms, and financial advising services.

The SEC works closely with other federal investigative agencies, such as the IRS and FBI, as well as the department of justice regarding civil actions related to their cases. The SEC was a significant component in the investigation of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, deemed the most notorious case of financial fraud in American history.

Secret Service

The Secret Service is well known for their work regarding presidential protection. However, the agency also plays a vital role in protecting other members of Congress and the Supreme Court, as well as investigating matters involving the country’s finances, such as counterfeiting, fraud, and forgery.

Notably the Secret Service has worked on monumental cases including the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, as well as the 2015 dismantling of an international cybercrime organization, known as Carbanak, that used technology hacking techniques to steal over one billion dollars from several international banks across the world.

Department of Homeland Security

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a powerhouse agency involved in the investigations of domestic threats to national security. Their jurisdiction covers cases that are suspected to pose a risk to the safety of the country. Furthermore, they handle matters involving illegal immigration and citizenship, child pornography, and other types of investigations that branch from issues that affect the national borders.

The DHS takes part in a number of investigations regarding terrorist attacks within the United States, such as the 2009 attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253, which resulted in the investigation and prosecution of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

The Role of a Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

Federal criminal defense lawyers are responsible for representing individuals or entities who are under investigation or subject to charges regarding a suspected or alleged federal crime. As a federal criminal defense lawyer, we strive to protect our clients’ rights and interests, while offering expertise and legal insight into the criminal justice process and their most effective way to proceed when building their defense.

How a Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

A federal criminal defense lawyer can offer critical support and intricate legal knowledge in the face of a federal crime investigation. With Steven S. Nolder Law Firm, LPA, we advise our clients on the most strategic approach to their case, providing clarity on their legal rights while ensuring their constitutional rights remain protected throughout the investigation and court proceedings.

We work tirelessly to reduce the impact of the investigation on our client’s personal and professional endeavors, as well as negotiate with federal prosecutors to achieve a favorable outcome. Furthermore, we provide unrivaled legal representation if the case goes to trial.

Contact Columbus’ Trusted Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you or a loved one has discovered that you are being investigated for a federal crime, or if you have been arrested regarding a federal crime, Steven S. Nolder Law Firm, LPA, is here to provide you with the legal assistance and representation you need. Contact our firm today to discuss the details of your federal investigation.