The Criminal Division was created by Attorney General Palmer in his reorganization of the Department of Justice in 1919.
The mission of the Criminal Division is to serve the public interest through the enforcement of criminal statutes in a vigorous, fair, and effective manner; and to exercise general supervision over the enforcement of all federal criminal laws, with the exception of those statutes specifically assigned to the Antitrust, Civil Rights, Environment and Natural Resources, or Tax Divisions.
The major functions of the Division are to:
- Develop, enforce, and supervise the application of all federal criminal laws, except those specifically assigned to other divisions of the Department.
- Supervise a wide range of criminal investigations and prosecutions, including those targeting individuals and organizations that commit or attempt to commit terrorist acts at home or against U.S. persons or interests abroad or those who assist in the financing of or otherwise support those criminal acts; international and national drug trafficking and money laundering organizations; international organized crime groups; and corrupt public officials.
- Approve and oversee the use of the most sophisticated investigative tools in the federal arsenal, including reviewing all federal electronic surveillance requests in criminal cases and authorizing participation in the Witness Security Program.
- Advise the Attorney General, the Congress, the Office of Management and Budget, and the White House on matters of criminal law.
- Coordinate with foreign countries to secure the return of fugitives and obtain evidence and other assistance from those foreign countries, and assure that the United States meets its reciprocal obligations to those foreign countries.
- Formulate and implement criminal enforcement policy and provide advice and assistance to all levels of the law enforcement community, including providing training to federal, state, and local prosecutors and investigative agencies.
- Provide training and development assistance to foreign criminal justice systems.
The Division’s major responsibilities include:
- Counterterrorism - In conjunction with the National Security Division, investigating and prosecuting terrorist financing and material support cases; establishing and maintaining an essential communication network between the Department of Justice and United States Attorneys’ Offices for the rapid transmission of information on terrorism threats and investigative activity; providing and serving as trusted liaisons to the intelligence, defense, and immigration communities as well as to foreign government partners on counterterrorism issues and cases.
- Public Integrity - Identifying and prosecuting corrupt government officials; actively investigating and prosecuting public corruption matters where United States Attorneys’ Offices are rescued; providing expertise, guidance, and instruction to law enforcement agents and prosecutors on matters involving corruption; and insuring that sensitive public corruption and election crime matters are handled in a uniform, consistent, and appropriate manner across the country.
- Human Rights and Special Prosecutions – Investigating and prosecuting cases related to the Department’s responsibility for human rights violations, international violent crime, and complex immigration work. The program reflects the U.S. Government’s deep commitment to prosecuting human rights violations and war crimes, both as a domestic law enforcement imperative and as a contribution to the global effort directed at ending impunity for war criminals and human rights violators.
- Fraud - Investigating and prosecuting sophisticated and multi-district white-collar crimes including corporate, securities, and investment fraud, government program and procurement fraud, and international criminal violations including the bribery of foreign government officials in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
- Child exploitation - Prosecuting high-impact cases in four primary areas: the online grooming and inducement of children by sexual predators, sex trafficking of children, travel abroad by U.S. citizens and resident aliens to sexually abuse foreign children (sex tourism), and enforcement of sex offender registration laws; providing forensic assistance to federal prosecutors and law enforcement agents in investigating and prosecuting violations of federal criminal statutes criminalizing child exploitation; coordinating nationwide operations targeting child predators; and developing policy and legislative proposals related to these issues.
- Computer crime and intellectual property crime - Working to prevent and response to cyber attacks on critical information systems (including cyber-terrorism); improving the domestic and international laws to prosecute computer and IP criminals most effectively; directing multi-district and transnational cyber investigations and prosecutions and thus protecting national security.
- Narcotics and dangerous drugs - Combating domestic and international drug trafficking and narco-terrorism; utilizing the best intelligence available to prosecute individuals and criminal organizations posing the most significant drug trafficking threat to the United States; enforcing laws that criminalize the extraterritorial manufacture or distribution of certain controlled substances intended or destined for the United States and against drug traffickers who directly or indirectly support a person or organization that engages in terrorist activity; and facilitating the provision of targeted intelligence support to DEA and other law enforcement agencies world wide.
- Organized Crime – Oversees the Department’s program to combat organized crime by: supervising the investigation and prosecution of all federal organized crime cases by 21 Strike Force Units within U.S. Attorneys’ Offices around the country, including prosecutions of La Cosa Nostra, Eurasian Organized Crime, Asian Organized Crime, Balkan Organized Crime, Italian Organized Crime and violent street gangs; formulating and implementing the Department’s strategy to combat international organized crime; exercising approval authority over all proposed federal prosecutions under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) and Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering (VCAR) statutes; supporting criminal prosecutions of federal crimes involving labor-management disputes, the internal affairs of labor unions in the private sector, and the operation of employee pension and welfare benefit plans; working with U.S. intelligence agencies and U.S. and foreign law enforcement agencies to identify, target, and investigate transnational organized crime groups; contributing to the development of policy and legislation relating to numerous organized crime-related issues, including gambling and human trafficking.
- Sensitive Investigative Techniques - Overseeing the use of the most sophisticated investigative tools at the Department’s disposal; reviewing federal electronic and video surveillance requests; authorizing participation in the Federal Witness Security Program (WSP); and reviewing requests for witness immunity, transfers of prisoners to and from foreign countries to serve the remainder of their prison sentences, attorney and press subpoenas, applications for S-Visa status, the imposition of special administrative measures (SAMs) to further restrict the confinement conditions of certain very dangerous persons in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons, and disclosure of grand jury information.
- International Affairs - Making all requests for international extraditions and for foreign evidence on behalf of federal, state, and local prosecutors and investigators; satisfying foreign requests for fugitives and evidence in the U.S.; negotiating and implementing law enforcement treaties; providing guidance to prosecutors and investigators on legal and policy issues arising in sensitive transnational investigations; and providing critical advice to the Attorney General and other principals of the Department on matters involving international law enforcement cooperation and comparative criminal law and practice.
- Assistance to foreign law enforcement institutions (police and corrections) - Creating and reforming new and existing police forces in other countries and international peacekeeping operations; enhancing of capabilities of existing police forces in emerging democracies; assisting nations that are on the front lines of the war on terrorism, and thus strengthening U.S. national security by creating sustainable foreign law enforcement institutions that promote democratic principles, instill respect for human rights and human dignity, and reduce the threat of transnational crime and terrorism.
- Policy and legislation - Serving as subject matter experts in all matters relating to criminal law and using that expertise to develop legislative and policy proposals to enhance our ability to fight crime.
- Appellate Work - Drafting briefs and certiorari petitions for the Solicitor General for filing in the U.S. Supreme Court; making recommendations to the Solicitor General as to whether further review is warranted on adverse decisions in the district courts and courts of appeals; and preparing briefs and arguing cases in the courts of appeals.
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