Chances are you’ve never heard of the federal Travel Act

Talk about a black hole.

The federal Travel Act might sound innocuous on its face, but the statutory enactment passed back in 1961 carries real bite for prosecutors invoking it in criminal law cases. Its catch-all language can be easily applied to levy punitive sanctions across a wide universe of conduct.

To wit: The law can snare any individual or enterprise that operates across state lines or uses “any facility in interstate or foreign commerce … to further any unlawful activity.”

The Travel Act was clearly drafted to serve as a wide enforcement net targeting illegal activity across a broad spectrum. An instructive article on the legislation duly notes that it was initially spawned as a tool to combat the workings of organized crime across state lines.

That relatively narrow focus has expanded considerably over time, though. We note on our criminal defense website at Hilder & Associates in Houston that the Travel Act has over many years broadly targeted these spheres:

  • Untaxed liquor sales, narcotics, prostitution and gambling
  • Bribery and extortion
  • Money laundering and other unlawful monetary transactions

Those enumerated categories are mere slivers of what officials employing the Act can focus upon. The aforementioned article notes that the legislation is being applied with growing frequency and force these days in matters like health care fraud probes targeting bribery and kickbacks.

A real fear for any individual or business that is targeted under the Travel Act is the legislation’s amorphous language, which can seemingly be used to apply to just about anything.

A proven criminal defense law firm can respond to questions or concerns related to the legislation. As we stress on our website, issues relevant to the Act “can only be resolved by a legal expert’s close look at the specific facts of [a] case.”