About the Law

Federal prosecutors frequently choose to charge individual defendants with a variety of crimes under a number of different statutes. An illegal alien who is caught while negotiating a drug deal, for example, 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.

Here then, as viewed through the lens of federal prosecutors across the country, are those "lead charges" which resulted in prosecutions or convictions either in the most recent month or most recently completed fiscal year. Click on the statute of interest from the following table to obtain the complete text as well as links to exclusive TRAC Reports on these frequently cited lead charges.