About the Law

Federal prosecutors frequently choose to charge individual defendants with a variety of crimes under a number of different statutes. An illegal alien who is caught while negotiating a drug deal, for example, might be indicted for drug dealing, numerous conspiracy offenses, as well as immigration violations. 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 narcotics or illegal immigrants along the southwest border.

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 DHS. 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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