Criminal Law



As the primary criminal investigative agency in the federal government, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has the authority and responsibility to investigate all criminal violations of federal law that are not exclusively assigned to another federal agency. The FBI thus plays a central role in the enforcement of federal laws and in the proper administration of justice in the United States. In discharging this function, the highest priority is to protect the security of the nation and the safety of the American people against the depredations of terrorists and foreign aggressors.

Investigations by the FBI are premised upon the fundamental duty of government to protect the public against general crimes, against organized criminal activity, and against those who would threaten the fabric of our society through terrorism or mass destruction. That duty must be performed with care to protect individual rights and to insure that investigations are confined to matters of legitimate law enforcement interest. The purpose of these Guidelines, therefore, is to establish a consistent policy in such matters. The Guidelines will enable Agents of the FBI to perform their duties with greater certainty, confidence and effectiveness, and will provide the American people with a firm assurance that the FBI is acting properly under the law.

These Guidelines provide guidance for general crimes and criminal intelligence investigations by the FBI. The standards and requirements set forth herein govern the circumstances under which such investigations may be begun, and the permissible scope, duration, subject matters, and objectives of these investigations. They do not limit activities carried out under other Attorney General guidelines addressing such matters as investigations and information collection relating to international terrorism, foreign counterintelligence, or foreign intelligence.

The Introduction that follows explains the background of the reissuance of these Guidelines, their general approach and structure, and their specific application in furtherance of the FBI's central mission to protect the United States and its people from acts of terrorism. Part I sets forth general principles that apply to all investigations conducted under these Guidelines. Part II governs investigations undertaken to prevent, solve or prosecute specific violations of federal law. Subpart A of Part III governs criminal intelligence investigations undertaken to obtain information concerning enterprises which are engaged in racketeering activities. Subpart B of Part III governs criminal intelligence investigations undertaken to obtain information concerning enterprises which seek to further political or social goals through violence or which otherwise aim to engage in terrorism or the commission of terrorism-related crimes. Parts IV through VII discuss authorized investigative techniques, dissemination and maintenance of information, counterterrorism activities and other authorized law enforcement activities, and miscellaneous matters.

These Guidelines are issued under the authority of the Attorney General as provided in sections 509, 510, 533, and 534 of title 28, United States Code.