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Jurisdictions and Functions of the FBI

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Security
Wordcount: 2235 words Published: 18th Feb 2019

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The criminal justice system consists of several government agencies whose work is to track, capture, and punish criminals. These agencies each have their roles, responsibilities, and jurisdictions which they operate. It is the reason why there are specific differentiations such as the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, the New York Police Department, O.C Superior Court, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and so on. The current report focuses on the Federal Bureau of Investigation and asserts some of its core characteristics and roles in the criminal justice system field. The article divides into the agency description, jurisdiction’s authority and the scope of the responsibilities, the specific duties that are assigned to them, and the requirements of eligibility for anyone wishing to join the agency.

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The FBI protects and defends the United States against threats from any terrorist and foreign intelligence, uphold and enforce criminal laws, and provide leadership and criminal justice services to the federal, state, municipal, and international agencies, and partners. Public safety is of core importance to the FBI. The agency’s headquarters are in Washington, DC. The location is strategic as it provides a centralized operational policy, which makes it easy to provide administrative support to FBI investigations. The core investigative and intelligence work is accomplished by 56 field officers situated in major U.S. cities and over 370 resident agencies, dubbed “RAs,” from all over the country. The RAs are satellite offices which are meant to give a feel that the FBI is concerned over the local community welfare. There are 64 Legal Attaché (Legat) offices, and 14 sub-offices in 67 countries across the globe (FBI n.p.). The core values of the FBI include rigorous obedience to the Constitution, respect for the U.S. citizens’ dignity, fairness, compassion, personal and professional dignity, non-compromise of individual and institutional integrity, and accountability (FBI Jobs 5). The current FBI Director is Christopher Wray, who has served as number eight in the position since August 2017 to present. Other senior staff include David Bowdich as the Deputy Directory, the Associate Deputy Director Paul Abbate, and Zachary Harmon who is the Chief of Staff (FBI Leadership & Structure n.p.). The office of the Director/Deputy Director/ Associate Deputy Directors has the following further divisions; finance and facilities, information management, inspection, the office of the Chief Information Officer, Congressional Affairs, EEO Affairs, General Counsel, Integrity and Compliance, Ombudsman, Professional Responsibility, Public Affairs, and Resource Planning.


The authority held by the FBI allows the agency to make arrests for federal crimes committed. However, its jurisdiction and that of federal officers may go beyond these functions in some cases.  For example, an FBI agent is allowed to make an arrest whenever they come across a crime being committed. Other instances include arresting individuals believed to have committed a crime, or in the process of doing so as long as there is irrefutable evidence that proves the officers claim (Leopulse n.p.). The FBI typically work in conjunction with the local policies. Its investigative authority is nonetheless, the broadest of all federal law enforcement agencies. Its strategic approach stresses long-term and complex investigations, which emphasize the close working relationships with other agencies from federal, state such as Interpol, foreign police and security officers in Washington, local, international law enforcement and intelligence agencies (Office of the United States Attorneys n.p.). The liaison and information sharing practices conducted between the FBI and any international law enforcement agencies is mediated by executive orders, laws, treaties, Attorney General Guidelines, FBI governing policies, and interagency agreements (FBI International Operations n.p.). These guidelines allow for greater uniformity and control for both national and international objectives.


According to the Office of the United States Attorneys, the FBI agency is divided into seven programs that help it achieve its objectives. They include applicant matter, civil rights, counterterrorism, foreign counterintelligence, organized crimes/drugs, violent crimes and major offenders, and financial crime (n.p.). These are the primary responsibilities of the FBI as dictated by the law. However, due to the differences in size, potential impacts or sensitivity of the individual cases, the scope of investigation may vary with extensive attention paid to crimes that demand so. However, the scope of responsibility for the FBI is as follows according to FDIAgentEDU.org (n.p,) & Leopulse (n.p.):

  • Terrorism. The Federal Bureau of Investigation identifies, investigates, disrupts, and arrests those with terrorist intentions (both domestic and international). This function is considered to be the most important and requires the utilization of diverse and specialized skill sets. The terrorist group also detains and interrogates any known terrorist groups or individuals on the U.S. soil
  • Organized Crime. The function covers many kinds of well-structured, persistent, criminal enterprises such as the Italian Mafia, illegal gambling, and sports bribery. The agency is now capable of observing and recording prominent organized crime activities in foreign countries to track associates. Aside from the Mafia, the FBI covers organized crime in the Balkans, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Eurasia, and South America.
  • Civil Rights. The FBI also protects and upholds all civil rights of the U.S. citizens. It prevents the persecution of civil rights through such activities such as pursuing hate crimes cases, human trafficking, and so on. Alternatively, it protects the rights to access public institutions such as libraries, schools, government offices, and hospitals.
  • Public Corruption. The FBI also concerns itself with the protection of the public against public corruption that arises through scenarios such as election fraud, government bribery, and any other instances that would undermine the democracy that the U.S. champions. It operates as the watchdog to government operations, using technology to oversee all transactions and behaviors of public officials.
  • White-Collar Crime. The FBI is at the forefront of preventing or fighting against white-collar crimes such as mortgage fraud, money laundering, and securities fraud, antitrust, and intellectual property theft. Also related to such cases would include internet schemes, identity theft, or large-scale investing scams.
  • Violent Crimes and Major Thefts. Gang members and online predators are part of the responsibility scope of the FBI. Property theft rings and bank robbers are also considered part of the violent crimes and significant theft category and jurisdiction of the FBI. They work with local police and provide the relevant skills to control dangerous crimes. The agency also maintains a database of stolen artwork and those responsible for the theft.
  • Cyber Crime. The FBI also searches for people that carry out computer attacks and intrusion. Offering protection for private information, internet fraud, and identity theft are part of the FBI’s scope of responsibilities. They carry these activities both offensively and defensively.


The FBI employs several people to fill in positions as field agents or professional staff, each of which has different requirements for entry-level positions. However, to apply for any of the posts, one must fulfill the following conditions;


Automatic deselection of applied candidates will take place for individuals who are non-U.S. citizens, have a history of conviction for a felony, violated the terms of the FBI Employment Drug Policy, defaulted student loans, or the failure to pass an FBI-administered drug test. Also, if one fails to register with the Selective Service System, they stand to fact automatic disqualification. Although, this requirement only applies to the male candidates. Further, any activity or attempt to or is designed to overthrow the U.S government by force is not treated kindly. Other conditions include the failure to pay child support or failing to file federal, state, or local income tax returns (FBI Jobs 12).

Employment Drug Policy

The FBI prides itself on being a drug-free society and workplace and does not hire applicants who currently use illegal drugs, misuse or abuse drugs or any other substances. Another instance of disqualification occurs when the candidate is believed (with proof) to have misrepresented their drug history relative to their application. Candidates may not have used marijuana for three years preceding their application, and medical forms cannot be used as mitigating factors whatsoever. The use of illegal drugs requires the candidates to be clean for more than ten years before their FBI application. In addition to this, they should not have been involved in the manufacture, distribution, transportation, or sold illegal drugs without a permit. The same case applies for prescription drugs such as anabolic steroids (FBI Jobs 13).

Background Investigation

Candidates must receive the FBI Top Secret Security Clearance after completion of the FBI Background Investigation. The Intensive Background Investigation follows, and once proceeds forward with employment after passing. Preliminary requirements include the use of the polygraph examination, illegal drug use test, credit and records checks, and extensive interviews with people close to the candidate such as former and current colleagues, neighbors, professors, and friends (FBI Jobs 14).

Other Qualifications

Candidates must possess at least a degree before applying for an FBI entry job position. If the applicant provides a degree not obtained from an accredited university or college in the United States, then it must be of equivalent certification at the time of the application. Advanced degrees may take precedence over a foreign bachelor’s degree. The agency tests both physical and mental skills. All FBI personnel must exhibit leadership, collaboration, organization, planning, problem solving and judgment, flexibility or adaptability, initiative, and communication. These must be evidenced in the application, providing evidence as to how each of these competencies are demonstrated. In addition to these, the candidate must score high on intelligence, self-discipline, and mental stability. Another condition is that one must have been successfully employed in a full-time professional work setting with three years’ experience and with a 6-month valid driver’s license. The age should not exceed 36 before the full appointment (FBI Jobs 18).

Works Cited

FBI Jobs. “Employment Eligibility.” Department of Justice, https://www.fbijobs.gov/working-at-fbi/eligibility

FBI Jobs. “Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Selection Process Candidate Information Packet.” Department of Justice, 2017, www.fbijobs.gov/sites/default/files/Special_Agent_Candidate_Information_Packet.pdf.

FBI. “Federal Bureau of Investigations Summary.” Department of Justice, 2013, www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/jmd/legacy/2013/10/08/fy13-fbi-bud-summary.pdf.

FDIAgentEDU.org. “Examples of the FBI’s Jurisdiction.” How to Become an FBI Agent? 2014 https://www.fbiagentedu.org/2014/06/examples-of-the-fbis-jurisdiction/

Federal Bureau of Investigations. “International Operations.” FBI, FBI, 14 June 2016, www.fbi.gov/about/leadership-and-structure/international-operations.

Federal Bureau of Investigations. “Leadership & Structure.” FBI, FBI, 14 July 2016, www.fbi.gov/about/leadership-and-structure.

Leopulse. “FBI Jurisdiction & Investigative Priorities.” Drug Enforcement Administration’s Jurisdiction & Investigative Priorities – LEO Pulse, 2018, www.leopulse.com/research/federal/fbi/jurisdiction-investigations.

Office of the United States Attorneys. “9. A FBI Organizational Structure and Investigative Jurisdiction.” The United States Department of Justice, 18 Dec. 2015, https://www.justice.gov/usam/organization-and-functions-manual-9-fbi-organizational-structure-and-investigative-jurisdiction


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