What are federal crimes, and who investigates them?
The law addresses different crimes based on varying factors. Certain offenses have specific provisions based on their nature and details. However, the law has clear boundaries for these violations, especially for federal crimes.
The general definition of a federal crime is an offense violating federal law. However, a crime could only fall under this category based on the circumstances. An offense could become a federal matter if it happened beyond a state level, involved a federal entity or escalated to federal authorities.
Still, federal authorities might need to review a case’s details before determining whether to proceed with the investigation or let state authorities handle it.
Mainstream media might portray the FBI as the usual investigators for these federal crimes. However, that is not always true. As examples, these agencies could receive the following federal violations based on their details:
The Federal Bureau of Investigations – Telemarketing fraud, terrorism, hate crimes, consumer fraud, civil rights violations or fraud against the government
The U.S. Health and Human Services – Healthcare fraud
The Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation – Tax fraud and other offenses
The U.S. Secret Service – Identity theft, credit card fraud, counterfeiting and threats against presidents of the United States
State Department, Bureau of Diplomatic Security – Passport and visa fraud
Once confirmed, the relevant government agency will investigate and proceed with the case.
What happens next if it is a federal crime?
The next steps significantly depend on the crime committed. The authorities could immediately make an arrest, wait for an arrest warrant for the perpetrator or gather evidence first. They could also get search warrants to collect documents relevant to the case.
Most federal crimes are large-scale, making it difficult to determine their true extent without thorough investigations. Regardless, federal authorities must be careful to catch all vital details.