|GenerallyCriminal Resource Manual at 2402Extortion By Force, Violence, or FearCriminal Resource Manual at 2403Under Color of Official RightCriminal Resource Manual at 2404Form Indictment—Interference with Commerce by ExtortionCriminal Resource Manual at 2405Form Indictment—Interference with Commerce by Robbery (18 U.S.C. § 1951)Criminal Resource Manual at 2406|
Investigative and Supervisory Jurisdiction
Primary investigative jurisdiction of offenses in 18 U.S.C. § 1951 lies with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Inspector General’s Office of Investigations, Division of Labor Racketeering (formerly the Office of Labor Racketeering), United States Department of Labor, is also authorized to investigate violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1951 in labor-management disputes involving the extortion of property from employers by reason of authority conferred on investigators as Special Deputy United States Marshals.
Supervisory jurisdiction over 18 U.S.C. § 1951 is exercised by the following offices with respect to the offenses noted:
Consultation Prior to Prosecution
Consultation with the Organized Crime and Gang Section’s Labor-Management Unit is required prior to the commencement of prosecution by the return of an indictment or the filing of a complaint or information in cases arising out of labor-management disputes.
Criminal Division attorneys may be consulted at any stage during the investigation process. When a United States Attorney requests an FBI investigation of a possible Hobbs Act violation, the FBI field offices will in certain cases notify Washington and FBI headquarters may consult with the appropriate Section of the Criminal Division before the investigation is concluded. Any delay or other difficulties arising out of this procedure may be obviated by discussing the matter with the appropriate Sections of the Criminal Division.
The robbery offense in 18 U.S.C. § 1951 is to be utilized, as a general rule, only in instances involving organized crime, gang activity, or wide-ranging schemes. The courts of appeals have agreed that proof of a de minimis effect on commerce is sufficient in a Hobbs Act prosecution. See United States v. Baylor, 517 F.3d 899, 901-903 (6th Cir.) (citing cases), cert. denied, 128 S. Ct. 2982 (2008). And recent Supreme Court decisions strongly support the constitutional adequacy of that showing. Nevertheless, it is important to ensure that proof of an effect on commerce in the individual case is introduced, in accordance with appropriate Hobbs Act standards. See, e.g., United States v. Parkes, 497 F.3d 220, 225-231 (2d Cir. 2007) (proof beyond a reasonable doubt that commerce was affected is a crucial part of Hobbs Act prosecution), cert. denied, 128 S. Ct. 1320 (2008); United States v. Peterson, 236 F.3d 848, 852-857 (7th Cir. 2001) (reversing Hobbs Act conviction for failure to prove interstate commerce element). Proof of an effect on interstate commerce is often particularly difficult in prosecutions under the Hobbs Act for the robbery of individuals. See, e.g., United States v. Wang, 222 F.3d 234, 238-240 (6th Cir. 2000), United States v. Collins, 40 F.3d 95 (5th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 514 U.S. 1121 (1995). If you are uncertain whether a particular case would be appropriate to charge under the Hobbs Act, you should consult with the Organized Crime and Gang Section in the Criminal Division.
See USAM 9-131.030.
[updated May 2011]