What Does the Secret Service Do?
The Secret Service is a federal investigative law enforcement agency founded in 1865. It was established as a branch of the U.S. Treasury Department to fight counterfeiting of U.S. currency. Counterfeiting was a serious problem at that time. It is estimated that, after the Civil War, approximately one-third of the currency in circulation was counterfeit. In 1901, after the assassination of President William McKinley, the Secret Service was given a second mission – to protect the President of the United States.
What Are the Responsibilities of the Secret Service Today?
Today, the Secret Service employs approximately 3,200 special agents, 1,300 uniformed division officers, and more than 2,000 professional, technical, and administrative support personnel. It is tasked with protecting the president, vice president, and others, and with investigating crimes against the financial infrastructure of the country. Under federal law, the agency is authorized to protect:
- The president, vice president, individuals next in succession to the presidency, the president-elect, the vice president-elect, and their immediate families
- Former presidents and their spouses (except after remarriage of a former spouse)
- Children of former presidents until they reach age 16
- Major presidential and vice presidential candidates and their spouses, within 120 days of a general presidential election
- Visiting foreign heads of state or government and their spouses traveling with them
- Other distinguished foreign visitors to the U.S.
- Official representatives of the U.S. performing special missions abroad
- Other individuals as designated by Executive Order of the President
- National Special Security Events, as designated by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security
What Is the Legal Authority of the Secret Service?
Certain powers are granted to the Secret Service under 18 US Code Section 3056. This federal law gives Secret Service agents and officers legal authority to:
- Carry firearms
- Execute warrants issued under federal law
- Make arrests without warrants for offenses against the United States committed in their presence
- Make arrests without warrants for felony offenses under federal law, provided they have reasonable grounds to believe the person being arrested has committed such a felony
- Investigate fraud in connection with identification documents, fictitious instruments, foreign securities, and fraudulent commerce
- Offer and pay rewards for information and services leading to the apprehension of individuals involved in violation of laws the Secret Service is authorized to enforce
- Perform other duties and functions as authorized by law
What Types of Crimes Are Investigated By the Secret Service?
The Secret Service has the authority to investigate threats against people under the agency’s protection and certain financial crimes. Examples of financial crimes investigated by Secret Service agents include:
- Counterfeiting of U.S. currency or other obligations of the U.S. government
- Theft or forgery of U.S. Treasury checks, bonds, or securities
- Telecommunications fraud
- Credit card fraud
- Computer fraud
- Identity fraud
- Certain crimes affecting federally insured financial institutions
What Does the Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force Do?
The Secret Service established an electronic crimes task force in 1995. Six years later, in 2001, Congress directed the agency to develop a national network of electronic crimes task forces, with the purpose of detecting, investigating, and preventing electronic crimes. Today, the Global Investigation Center headquarters supports this network of task forces with guidance, knowledge, and technical infrastructure. With this unified approach, the Secret Service has prevented millions in financial losses through cybercrime.
Who Do You Call for Premier Criminal Defense?
If you are facing serious criminal charges, call Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP at (213) 688-0460 to schedule a free initial consultation. As former prosecutors, our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience serving on both sides in court. We have taken on many challenging, high-profile cases, with very positive results.