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The FBI and Federal Criminal Statutes

Over the years, Congress has enacted more than 3,000 federal criminal statutes. The FBI, as the national government's only general purpose investigative agency, can use most of these laws in its daily enforcement activities. While in any year the FBI will cite many hundreds of these laws as the central charge, the overwhelming majority of the bureau cases are brought under only a few dozen of them.

A person who is charged with criminal offenses as a result of an FBI investigation rarely is accused of violating only a single law. A drug dealer, for example, might be charged under separate laws concerning the illegal distribution of drugs, money laundering and racketeering. Similarly, a crooked city employee might be charged with fraud against the government, mail fraud and criminal tax violations.

Another peculiarity regarding the FBI and the law is that many federal statutes mirror local ones. This means, for example, that FBI cases involving such subjects as bank robbery, gangs, kidnapping and drug dealing could also be brought by local authorities. One result of this situation is that every time the FBI involves itself in a matter that could be handled by city or state police, it has less time for matters that are better addressed at the federal level such as national security and the criminal violations of large corporations.

During the Justice Department's data collection process, assistant United States attorneys across the country are asked to select the "lead charge" against each of the defendants they prosecute. Obviously, the judgement about which law will be cited as the lead charge is somewhat subjective when multiple serious violations are involved. In addition, such judgements sometimes may be influenced by the political needs of the moment: an administration, for example, that wants to show the public it is deeply concerned about the hot subject of the year such as organized crime or threats to the nation's security.

Here then, as viewed through the lens of federal prosecutors across the country, are the statutes most frequently cited as being the "lead charge" in the referrals coming from the FBI. The laws are presented in the order of their statute numbers. The complete text of these frequently cited statutes can be viewed by selecting the particular law of interest in the following table.

Click on Statute to View Text

U.S. Code Description
 08 USC 01324 Bringing in and harboring certain aliens
 08 USC 01326 Reentry of deported alien
 15 USC 00001 Trusts, etc., in restraint of trade illegal; penal
 15 USC 00078j Use/employ any manipulative/deceptive device/ in contravention
 18 USC 00004 Misprision of Felony
 18 USC 00007 Special Maritime/Territorial Jurisdiction of US
 18 USC 00032 Destruction of aircraft or aircraft facilities
 18 USC 00111 Assaulting, resisting, impeding certain officers
 18 USC 00113 Assaults within maritime and territorial jurisdictions
 18 USC 00115 Influencing, impeding, or retaliating against a Federal official
 18 USC 00152 Concealment of assets; false oaths and claims; etc
 18 USC 00157 Bankruptcy Fraud
 18 USC 00201 Bribery of public officials and witnesses
 18 USC 00215 Receipt of commissions or gifts for procuring loan
 18 USC 00241 Conspiracy against rights
 18 USC 00242 Deprivation of rights under color of law
 18 USC 00249 Hate crime acts
 18 USC 00286 Conspiracy to defraud the Government claims
 18 USC 00371 Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US
 18 USC 00513 Securities of the States and private entities
 18 USC 00641 Public money, property or records
 18 USC 00656 Theft/embezzlement/misapplication by bank off, emp
 18 USC 00657 Lending, credit and insurance institutions
 18 USC 00659 Interstate or foreign shipments by carriers
 18 USC 00666 Theft or bribery in programs receiving Fed funds
 18 USC 00844 Explosives - Importation and storage of explosives
 18 USC 00875 Interstate Communications
 18 USC 00876 Mailing threatening communications
 18 USC 00894 Collection of extensions of credit by extortionate
 18 USC 00912 False personification - Officer or employee of US
 18 USC 00922 Firearms; Unlawful acts
 18 USC 00924 Firearms; Penalties
 18 USC 01001 Fraud/false statements or entries generally
 18 USC 01014 Fraud - Loan and credit applications etc
 18 USC 01028 Fraud and related activity - id documents
 18 USC 01028A Aggravated Identity Theft
 18 USC 01029 Fraud and related activity - access devices
 18 USC 01030 Fraud and related activity - computers
 18 USC 01035 False claims relating to health care matters
 18 USC 01038 False Information and Hoaxes
 18 USC 01040 Fraud in connection with major disaster or emergency benefits
 18 USC 01073 Flight to Avoid Prosecution or Giving Testimony
 18 USC 01084 Gambling ships - transmit of wagering information
 18 USC 01111 Murder
 18 USC 01112 Manslaughter
 18 USC 01163 Embezzlement and theft from Indian Tribal organiza
 18 USC 01167 Theft from gaming establishments on Indian lands
 18 USC 01168 Insider Theft of gaming establishments Indian land
 18 USC 01201 Kidnaping
 18 USC 01341 Mail Fraud - Frauds and swindles
 18 USC 01343 Fraud by wire, radio, or television
 18 USC 01344 Bank Fraud
 18 USC 01347 Health Care Fraud
 18 USC 01348 Securities Fraud
 18 USC 01349 Mail Fraud - Attempt and Conspiracy
 18 USC 01512 Tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant
 18 USC 01513 Retaliating against a witness, victim or informant
 18 USC 01521 Retaliate against federal judge/law enforcement false claim/slander
 18 USC 01546 Fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents
 18 USC 01584 Sale into involuntary servitude
 18 USC 01591 Sex trafficking of children by force, fraud or coercion
 18 USC 01621 Perjury generally
 18 USC 01623 False declarations before grand jury or court
 18 USC 01709 Theft of mail matter by officer or employee
 18 USC 01791 Providing or possessing contraband in prison
 18 USC 01792 Prisons - Mutiny and riot prohibited
 18 USC 01832 Theft of trade secrets
 18 USC 01951 Hobbs Act
 18 USC 01952 Racketeering -interstate/foreign travel/transport
 18 USC 01955 Prohibition of illegal gambling businesses
 18 USC 01956 Laundering of monetary instruments
 18 USC 01957 Monetary transactions w/property from unlawful act
 18 USC 01958 Interstate commerce facilities - murder for hire
 18 USC 01959 Violent crimes in aid of racketeering activity
 18 USC 01962 RICO - prohibited activities
 18 USC 02111 Robbery/burglary - Special jurisdiction
 18 USC 02113 Bank robbery and incidental crimes
 18 USC 02119 Carjacking
 18 USC 02241 Aggravated sexual abuse
 18 USC 02242 Sexual abuse
 18 USC 02243 Sexual abuse of a minor or ward
 18 USC 02244 Abusive sexual contact
 18 USC 02250 Fail to register as sex offender after traveling interstate commerce
 18 USC 02251 Sexual exploitation of children
 18 USC 02252 Material involving sexual exploitation of minors
 18 USC 02252A Activity relating material constituting/containing chil
 18 USC 02312 Transportation of stolen vehicles
 18 USC 02314 Transportation of stolen goods, etc
 18 USC 02319 Criminal infringement of a copyright
 18 USC 02320 Trafficking in counterfeit goods or services
 18 USC 02339 Harboring or Concealing Terrorists
 18 USC 02339A Providing material support to terrorists
 18 USC 02339B Provide material support to foreign terrorist orgs
 18 USC 02421 Transportation for illegal sexual activity and related crimes
 18 USC 02422 Transport for sex - Coercion and enticement
 18 USC 02423 Transportation of minors for sexual activity
 18 USC 03048 Commitment to another district; removal--Rule 40
 18 USC 03583 Term of supervised release after imprisonment
 21 USC 00841 Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A
 21 USC 00843 Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts C
 21 USC 00844 Penalty for simple possession
 21 USC 00846 Attempt and conspiracy
 21 USC 00952 Importation of controlled substances
 21 USC 00963 Attempt and conspiracy
 26 USC 05861 Tax on Making Firearms - Prohibited acts
 26 USC 07201 Attempt to evade or defeat tax
 31 USC 05324 Structuring transactions to evade reporting requir
 42 USC 01973 Denial/abridgement of right to vote
 46 USC 70503 Possession control substance on vessel subject to jurisdiction of US
 46 USC 70506 Penalties
 47 USC 00223 Obscene or harrassing telephone calls
 49 USC 46504 Interference with flight crew members and attendants
 49 USC 46506 Application of Criminal Laws to Acts on Aircraft


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