United States Department of Justice (DOJ)

Department of Justice
Learn about the United States Department of Justice.

What is the Department of Justice?

The mission of the United States Department of Justice is to enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law. In addition, the DOJ is responsible for ensuring public safety against threats foreign and domestic. Also, the DOJ provides leadership in preventing and controlling crime. They seek punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior and ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.

Judiciary Act of 1789

The Judiciary Act of 1789 created the Office of the Attorney General. Initially, the office began with one person working part-time. The person understood the law and had the duty “to prosecute and conduct all suits in the Supreme Court in which the United States shall be concerned, and to give his advice and opinion upon questions of law when required by the President of the United States, or when requested by the heads of any of the departments, touching any matters that may concern their departments.” 

The legal workload quickly became too much for one person, and several assistants were hired for the Attorney General. Eventually, the caseload grew, and private attorneys were retained to work on cases.

The Department of Justice

In 1870, the United States Congress passed an act to establish the Department of Justice, setting it up as “an executive department of the government of the United States” with the Attorney General as its head. The DOJ of Justice is responsible for handling the legal business of the United States.

The Act gave the Department control over all criminal prosecutions and civil suits in which the United States was interested. In addition, the Act gave the Attorney General and the Department control over federal law enforcement. To assist the Attorney General, the 1870 Act created the Office of the Solicitor General.

The 1870 Act is the foundation upon which the DOJ still rests. However, the structure of the Department of Justice has changed over the years, with the addition of the Deputy Attorneys General and the formation of the Divisions. Unchanged is the steadily increasing workload of the Department. It has become the world’s largest law office and the central agency for enforcing federal laws.

DOJ Information and Resources

  • United States Department of Justice Website – The official website of the U.S. Justice Department.
  • Bureau of Justice Statistics – Collects, analyzes, publishes, and disseminates information on crime, criminal offenders, victims of crime, and the operation of justice systems at all levels of government. These data are critical to federal, state, and local policymakers in combating crime and ensuring that justice is efficient and evenhanded.
  • Office of Justice Programs – The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) provides leadership to federal, state, local, and tribal justice systems by disseminating knowledge and best practices across the country and providing grants for implementing crime-fighting strategies. The OJP works in partnership with the justice community to identify the most pressing crime-related challenges confronting the justice system. Then, they provide information, training, coordination, and innovative strategies and approaches for addressing these challenges.
  • National Criminal Justice Reference Service – NCJRS is a federally funded resource offering justice and substance abuse information to support research, policy, and program development worldwide.

Why do Private Investigators Need to Know about the DOJ?

From time to time, private investigators may become involved with cases connected to the department. Knowing how it is structured and what resources are available will help with navigating the complexities of the government organization.

Questions and Comments

If you have any questions or comments about the Department of Justice, please post a comment below. Learn about other Government Departments and Agencies.

Michael Kissiah is the owner of Brandy Lane Publishing, LLC, which owns and operates a small portfolio of websites, including eInvestigator.com. Michael created eInvestigator.com more than 20 years ago after working as a private investigator in the state of Florida. Since that time, he has become an expert at how to find information online and has written over 1000 articles on topics related to the investigation industry. In addition, he is the author of the "Private Investigator Licensing Handbook", available at Amazon.com.



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