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About the Law

Federal prosecutors frequently choose to charge individual defendants with a variety of crimes under a number of different statutes. An organized crime figure who committed a murder, for example, might be indicted for murder, a variety of weapons charges, and numerous organized crime and conspiracy offenses. A bank robbery in which a weapon is used may result in both weapons and bank robbery charges. During the data collection process, the Justice Department asks the prosecutors to select the "lead charge" on all referrals that they handle. Obviously, these judgments often are somewhat subjective when multiple serious charges are involved. Sometimes, they are influenced by the political needs of the moment: an administration, for example, that wants to show the public it is concentrating on organized crime or on violence with weapons.

Here then, as viewed through the lens of federal prosecutors across the country, are the most frequently cited "lead charges" involved in referrals coming from the ATF. The complete text of these frequently cited lead charges can be viewed by selecting the particular statute of interest in the following table.


Click on statute to view text
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