TRAC About the Law

About the Law: Overview (0:56)


Federal prosecutors frequently choose to charge individual defendants with a variety of crimes under a number of different statutes.

For example, an illegal alien who is caught while negotiating a drug deal 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.

For more information about the law, go to, select any of the federal agencies and choose About the Law, or on the TRAC Site Map, under any of the federal agencies, select About the Law. About the Law
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