When it comes to federal crimes, it is easy to get confused about the jurisdiction of the many law enforcement agencies and regulatory agencies that operate under the federal government. When you face a federal crime, it will be a federal agency and not a Texas agency that handles the investigation and provides the information to the U.S. attorney who will take your case to court. Which agency investigates depends on the type of crime. 

Many people mistakenly think that the FBI handles all crimes, but this is not what really happens. The FBI explains that it does have a wide range of duties and the authority to investigate various crimes. The official jurisdiction of the FBI is over anything other agencies do not have authority over. This applies only to other federal agencies. The FBI may step into a state investigation and take over if the case involves a federal crime. 

There are many other agencies that handle federal crimes. A good example is a crime involving immigration issues falls under the jurisdiction of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. During the prohibition era, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had a lot of work stopping illegal alcohol operations and still oversees the products under its control. 

There is some overlap in what each agency handles and if the FBI may step in. Sometimes a crime will fall under the authority of more than one agency because it has elements of crimes related to each agency’s specialized area. In any case, the FBI is often at least present in investigations, but it does not always take the lead. This information is for education and is not legal advice.