3. Policy Considerations

Not every case involving violations of federal law is prosecuted by the federal government. Policy considerations govern the disposition of many cases involving violations of federal law and such policy oftentimes dictate that certain cases be closed, transferred to state authorities for investigation, or referred for civil disposition.  Because federal resources are limited, it is not possible to federally prosecute every violation of federal law that occurs in this country.  Because of this inherent limitation, the United States Department of Justice has promulgated guidelines for use by federal prosecutors in determining which cases should be prosecuted and which should not. Again, the operative word here is “guideline”.  Because each potential federal case must be evaluated on an ad hoc basis, these guidelines will usually govern their disposition, but not always.

It is apparent from review of the Justice Department’s guidelines that many violations of federal law are by conscious choice and decision never prosecuted on a federal level.  Even if evidence sufficient to sustain a prosecutable case exists, if disposition of the case, other than formal federal prosecution, would serve the ends of justice, such avenues will then be utilized. Thus, sufficiency of the evidence is not necessarily the determinative factor for an investigative agency or a local U.S. Attorney’s office.  It is but one consideration among many in deciding which cases involving violations of federal law will be prosecuted on a federal level.  If state officials can adequately address a certain problem or if several remedies exist which will adequately protect the public, federal resources can be preserved and utilized, hopefully, only in those cases where federal intervention is in the national interest.

Next Section: B. The Investigative Process

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