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How do US Attorneys select proper forum / venue for federal crimes?

Los Angeles, CA |

How do US Attorneys select proper forum / venue for federal crimes? Do they communicate with each other?

Big drug drug ring in Cali with a lot of smaller drug dealer in Cali, partner in Nebraska. Big guy from Cali + partner in Nebraska get prosecuted in Federal District of Nebraska. Will the prosecutors also prosecute the smaller guys in Nebraska or will they prosecute with them in District of Cali? How is that decided?

What if there is a company that primarily defrauds people in Hawaii but happen to defraud someone in Alaska? Will federal prosecutors prosecute the members of the company in Hawaii or Alaska?

How are those decisions typically made?

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Attorney answers 6

Best Answer
Posted

District offices will communicate about the location of the crimes and the affected jurisdictions. These are not usually discussions defense attorneys are a part of.

Asker

Posted

Do multi-jurisdictional prosecutions ever occur? Half of the criminals get prosecuted in one district for prosecutorial convenience and the other half in another?

Stephen F Wallace

Stephen F Wallace

Posted

It can happen as in conspiracies and RICO.

Asker

Posted

I asked this above but.. In a single district prosecution, wouldn't the prosecuting district be biased and more inclined in prosecuting the criminals located in their district and directly affecting their district than those hurting those other districts? What is the difference between RICO, a normal conspiracy, and drug conspiracy? All the Federal conspiracy distinctions are very weird and difficult to comprehend. Under state law, there is just a plain conspiracy to commit an offense statute (ex: conspiracy to commit robbery; Bill and John agree to rob a bank).

Posted

A lot of the decision making process will involve the investigating agency. They will have a lot of input.

Asker

Posted

Doesn't the investigative agency operate throughout multiple states / districts?

Stephen F Wallace

Stephen F Wallace

Posted

It depends, as in NC, the district offices correspond to the prosecuting districts.

Asker

Posted

So from what I understand investigative agency investigates all potential criminals, refers them to various Districts then the Assistant US Attorneys decide who to prosecute and who to not prosecute depending on their discretion, correct?

Stephen F Wallace

Stephen F Wallace

Posted

Yes.

Asker

Posted

So pretty much let's say the FBI spend 2 years investigating a major drug and weapon trafficking conspiracy. Then, they present it to the US Attorney who says "I can prosecute 32 people based on priorities, court resources and the list is 42 people." So he selects 20 people based on things like drug quantity, cooperation, whether both weapons and drugs were sold, quantity of weapons, etc. So then he selects the 32 people, puts them on an indictment, goes to grand jury, indictment is issued and the 32 people are charged. Something like that right?

Posted

Rules for jurisdiction and venue are set out in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and its companion Federal Rules of criminal Procedure. I suggest you go there for your homework assignment.

Stephen F Wallace

Stephen F Wallace

Posted

http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcrmp/

Asker

Posted

I already looked into the Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rules of Evidence, etc. I am just trying to learn about the practical side of things which is not typically in books.

Stephen F Wallace

Stephen F Wallace

Posted

I agree with the pursuit. We all here on this forum share your enthusiasm.

John M. Kaman

John M. Kaman

Posted

Speak for yourself Mr. Wallace.

Stephen F Wallace

Stephen F Wallace

Posted

No offense intended.

Posted

Typically they make a decision as to where most of the crime occurred, or which prosecutor's office did the investigation. They could prosecute them in either place. Sometimes, the place where most of the investigating officers or witnesses are is the factor. Many times in fraud cases like you suggest, there are victims in many jurisdictions all over the country. The prosecution will likely take place in the jurisdiction where most victims were, or where the investigation originated. There's no science to it, it's a judgment call.

No legal advice is given here. My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must NOT be relied upon as if they were legal advice. I give legal advice ONLY in the course of a formal attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions & Answers forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by joint execution of a written agreement for legal services. I am only licensed in the States of California and New York and the District of Columbia

Asker

Posted

Wouldn't the prosecuting district be biased and more inclined in prosecuting the criminals located in their district and directly affecting their district than those hurting those other districts?

Posted

Usually where most of the evidence is located for convenience of all involved. However, as you pointed out this can be complicated and could be prosecuted in either location depending upon the situation.

Posted

The decisions are made by experienced federal prosecutors base on multiple factors and policy. The AUSUs (Assistant U.S. Attorneys) who are assigned to investigate and bring the information before Federal Grand Jury are under the supervision of attorneys who have extensive experience in particular type of criminal enterprise. The supervising AUSAs report to other even more experienced lawyers. The investigation is conducted by federal law enforcement officers from the FBI, DEA, IRS-CID, U.S Postal Inspectors and many other highly trained and experienced persons.

I realize that this response does not really address your question. The purpose of my response is to emphasis that the government has extensive resources and assets at their disposal to assist in the decision process. If your question is hypothetical then significantly more context is necessary to respond. If your question is based in fact and concern please cease using a public forum and consult an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer ASAP.

Of course, every answer or response is based on the information provided in the question asked and requires a much more complete context than is available in this public forum. This answer/response should NOT be relied upon to make any legal decisions. Seek the advice of an experienced Federal and/or state criminal defense attorney in your jurisdiction BEFORE you say or do anything.