FBI Jurisdiction & Investigative Priorities

While the FBI has authority to make arrests of federal crimes the jurisdiction of a federal officer is wider in certain cases. In the United States of America, the FBI’s special agent can arrest any person they see committing a federal crime. They can also arrest any person or persons whom they believe has committed a crime, or is committing a crime — provided there is enough evidence to support the federal officer’s claim.

While in foreign soil FBI agents must work closer with the local government to enforce US laws on foreign soil. However, in certain countries Congress and the host nation provide the authority US federal agents need to make arrests when US law is broken on foreign soil.

Jurisdiction over other government agencies

While movies may show crimes consistently handed over to Federal agents, typically FBI agents work jointly with local police. There is no official hierarchy of federal and state officers and local officials are not subordinate to federal officers. If a case needs federal intervention the FBI agents and local authority create a join task force to handle the case.

What laws does the FBI enforce?

The FBI enforces over 300 federal laws and has jurisdiction to examine any federal case except where Congress has appointed responsibility to another agency. As well as this large reach there are six federal laws Congress has appointed jurisdiction solely to the FBI, they are:

  • Title 18, United States Code, Section 659 - Theft from Interstate Shipment
    • Makes it a federal offense to steal or obtain by fraud anything from a conveyance, depot or terminal, any shipment being transported in interstate or foreign commerce. The statute also prohibits the "fencing" of such stolen property.
  • Title 18, United States Code, Section 1951 - Interference with Commerce by Threats of Violence (Hobbs Act)
    • Makes it a federal offense to obstruct interstate commerce by robbery or extortion or to use or threaten to use violence against any person or property in interstate commerce.
  • Title 18, United States Code, Section 2314 and 2315 - Interstate Transportation of Stolen Property
    • Prohibits the transportation in interstate or foreign commerce of any goods with a value of $5,000 or more knowing the goods to be stolen. These statutes also prohibit the "fencing" of such goods.
  • Title 18, United States Code, Section 668 - Theft of Major Artwork
    • Makes it a federal offense to obtain by theft or fraud any object of cultural heritage from a museum. The statute also prohibits the "fencing" or possession of such objects, knowing them to be stolen.
  • Title 18, United States Code, Section 1170 - Illegal Trafficking in Native American Human Remains and Cultural Items
    • Prohibits the sale of the human remains or cultural artifacts of Native Americans without the right of possession of those items in accordance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
  • Title 18, United States Code, Section 641 and 2114 - Theft of Government Property
    • Makes it illegal to steal or embezzle any government property or to commit robbery of government property. Prosecutive guidelines are established by the United States Attorney in each federal judicial district.

Within the FBI are three National security threats and five criminal crimes they oversee and prevent. From violent crimes to large-scale criminals the FBI dedicates themselves to preserving a safe country. The following categories were created to establish focused groups and centers with dedicated taskforces. The FBI isn’t just about protecting national security, the FBI researches all types of crimes and occurrences within the United States.


Terrorism is a top priority for government officials and agencies and the FBI is at the forefront of fighting terrorism within the United. Headed by joint task forces, a group of FBI agents with diverse and trained skills; the FBI oversees and prevents terrorism. From posting most wanted lists, training, and developing precautions, the FBI seeks to protect the United States from all threats.

The terrorist group also detains and interrogates known terrorists while on US soil. The FBI publicly lists known terrorist and update and delivers this list to immigration stations to prevent the entry of dangerous people. The FBI uses computer software and connect with global companies to remove their funding and stop their support groups.


While the word ‘spy’ might bring up thoughts of the cold war or the old Bond movies, spies are more common now than there were during any time in history. Modern spies vary from American citizens trying to sell information about sensitive missions, technology, or troop movements to foreign government—they even can be normal people who post sensitive information to websites or social media. Spying typically involves corporate secrets and technology patents, and it costs Americans billions in lost revenue and taxes every year.

Agents focus on communications, modern technology, and interception and always search for new ways to protect American patents and information. Previously an isolated agency, the FBI works with average Americans who report suspicious behavior at their businesses and homes. The FBI stops dangerous technology from falling into the wrong hands or protecting our companies and citizen’s rights to their copyright information.

Cyber Security

Still relatively new, cyber security is far more important to the average American than it was 20 years ago. Protection from cyber-attacks gained importance as criminals tapped and read private and secure documents from any computer on the globe. Simply put, the FBI searches for people who attack your computer and use scams to install software that give them access to your personal information. Offering protection from computer intrusions, Internet fraud, and identity theft the department works on both preventive and offensive measures.

Public Corruption

The FBI prides itself on searching and rooting out public corruption at all levels. From government fraud, foreign governments and foreign nationals, the FBI serves as a watchdog to stop corruption before it interferes with our democratic government. Using technology the FBI detects and pinpoints government officials accepting bribes and using the government to their own benefit. Corruption affects our government in many ways, from scandals in office to rigging our elections the FBI seeks to stop all of these occurrences.

Civil Rights

The FBI is responsible for stopping and arresting individuals who seek to spread hate through violence. This department solely focuses on protecting your civil rights from persecution from other citizens of the United States and other countries. A primary force in human trafficking, the FBI oversees and prevents selling humans within the United States and abroad. As well as these services the FBI also protects your rights to clinics and other government buildings including libraries, schools, government offices, and hospitals.

Organized Crime

Made famous by Hollywood movies, the FBI‘s role in preventing organized crime and sports bribery became crucial during the 1920’s. Now, the FBI is responsible for stopping unlawful actions on US soil and for watching and recording prominent organized crime in other countries. They use this information to track local associates of these organizations, more than just the Mafia the FBI watches organized crime from Eurasia, the Balkans, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and South America.

White-collar Crime

“Lying, Cheating, and Stealing” briefly explains exactly what white-collar crime is. The FBI seeks to prevent these crimes by using insider information and skills to detect schemes before they cause widespread damage. Also related are cases of identity theft, Internet schemes, and large-scale investing scams. Common cases of Enron to Madoff give insight to the importance of preventing these crimes before they collapse and cost investors and workers millions.

Violent Crime and Major Thefts

Last, the FBI seeks to aid and head task forces to prevent and research large thefts and violent crimes. The FBI leads the investigations on the mass shooting to large crimes such as bank robberies and hostages. They work with local police to provide the skills needed to control dangerous crimes. The FBI also is responsible for keeping an online database of stolen artwork and searching for the culprits responsible.


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