Overview of the Duties and Responsibilities of a U.S. Marshal

U.S. Marshals Head Quarters, Washingotn D.C. Director of the US Marshals Service Stacia Hylton swears in Clayton Johnson as the new Marshal for the Northern District of Oklahoma on Thursday 25, Aug. 2011
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U.S. Marshal Overview

U.S. marshals occupy a uniquely central position in the federal justice system. Presidentially appointed U.S. marshals direct the activities of 94 districts—one for each federal judicial district. More than 3,500 deputy marshals and criminal investigators form the backbone of the agency.

The United States Marshals Service is the federal government's lead agency for conducting investigations involving escaped federal prisoners; probation, parole and bond default violators; and fugitives based on warrants generated during drug investigations. U.S. marshals have the authority to carry firearms and make an arrest on all federal warrants.

Job Duties

U.S. marshals have the broadest jurisdiction of any federal agency. Their primary role is to protect and facilitate the successful operation of the federal judiciary system. To accomplish this task, U.S. marshals perform the following duties:

Apprehending fugitives: U.S. marshals work with federal, state, and local authorities to apprehend and arrest fugitives. According to the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. marshals arrested more 84,000 federal, state and local fugitives in 2017. Of that number, over 26,000 were federal fugitives and more than 57,000 were state and local fugitives.

Transporting and managing prisoners: Managed by the U.S. Marshals Service, the Justice Prisoner & Alien Transportation System (JPATS) is one of the largest transporters of prisoners in the world—handling more than 1,000 requests every day to move prisoners between judicial districts, correctional institutions, and foreign countries.

Protecting members of the federal judiciary: U.S. marshals ensure the safe and secure conduct of judicial proceedings and protect federal judges, jurors and other members of the federal judiciary by anticipating and deterring threats and employing a variety of innovative protective techniques.

Managing and selling assets: Under the​ Department of Justice's Asset Forfeiture Program, the U.S. Marshals Service manages and disposes of properties seized and forfeited by federal law enforcement agencies and U.S. attorneys nationwide in federal criminal investigations.

Protecting federal witnesses: The U.S. Marshals Service provides 24-hour protection to all witnesses while they are in a high threat environment, including pre-trial conferences, trial testimonials, ​and other court appearances. In both criminal and civil matters, involving protected witnesses, the U.S. Marshals Service cooperates with local law enforcement and court authorities in bringing witnesses to justice or in having them fulfill their legal responsibilities.

Serving court documents: U.S. marshals and their deputies are authorized to execute federal court civil and criminal process through a subpoena, summons, writ of habeas corpus, warrant, or other means.

Education and Experience

To become a deputy U.S. marshal, you must possess a four-year bachelor's degree, or three years of qualifying experience, or an equivalent combination of education and experience. “Qualifying experience” includes experience in law enforcement; teaching, counseling or classroom instruction; or sales. It also may include work involving the correctional treatment and supervision of criminal offenders in correctional institutions; certain interviewing experience in a public or private service agency; work involving contacts with the public for the purpose of gathering information, such as credit rating investigator, claims adjuster, journalist, etc.; or other experience that has demonstrated the ability to take charge and make decisions, such as civilian/military supervisory, managerial, or leadership responsibility.

In addition, U.S. marshals must complete a rigorous 17-½ week basic training program at the United States Marshals Service Basic Training Academy in Glynco, GA.

U.S. Marshal Qualifications

In addition to the education or experience outlined above, to become a deputy U.S. marshal, you must possess the following qualifications:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be between the ages of 21 and 36
  • Possess a valid driver’s license
  • Complete a structured interview
  • Meet certain medical qualifications
  • Successfully complete a background investigation

U.S. Marshal Salaries

All deputy U.S. marshals start at the GL-07 entry level, earning between $38,511 and $48,708 per year (as of December 2018). Salaries can vary additionally, according to the geographic location of employment.