We’ve covered some basic tenets of alien smuggling, including some of the many actions that can land you in hot water under the broad scope of alien smuggling. But what do you need to know if you or someone you know is facing charges for this offense?
Any good and experienced immigration and criminal defense attorney is well aware of the varying factors that can make or break a defense for alien smuggling charges, so let’s look at a few here:
We Are Family
So, maybe you’ve been charged with alien smuggling for giving someone in your family with no status safe harbor or a ride, and your first response is, “We are family!” Well, that might be a classic and catchy tune that Sister Sledge brought to us a few decades ago, but it is not a plausible defense for fighting alien smuggling charges.
I know we’ve covered this aspect of alien smuggling before, but it’s important to stress. We understand the desire to help a family member and how difficult it can be to deny assistance to someone you know and love. Though we recognize the significance of family, the U.S. government does not have an appreciation for the value of family when it comes to justifying alien smuggling, unfortunately.
Less Is More
Like most everything in life, especially criminal charges, there are degrees of severity. The number of mistakes you make have different levels of consequence. This is very much true when it comes to alien smuggling. It is applicable in your defense when we look at how many people without status you may have helped come here unlawfully.
The more, the merrier is not the case here, as the penalties for alien smuggling are proportionate to how many people you’ve assisted. In short, more is more, not less.
If Breaking the Law, Follow the Law…?
Ok, this one sounds a bit silly, but it’s actually true when it comes to your defense of alien smuggling charges. If you’re going to break that law, be sure you’re following the rules of the road.
Believe it or not, there are harsher penalties for alien smuggling if you and your passengers are apprehended while not wearing seatbelts or while speeding. It’s a general rule that any and everything you can do wrong can be held against you, even if those missteps have nothing at all to do with the primary charge you are facing. So, use those turn signals and obey the speed limits in everything you do because law enforcement is always ready to tackle “related” charges.
It’s counterintuitive to most people to deny a child assistance, as children are so much more vulnerable than adults. It’s precisely because of that vulnerability that alien smuggling charges for transporting children are much more severe than if you were to be apprehended while assisting undocumented adults. Again, while we stress the importance of not putting yourself in jeopardy with criminal actions, the age of your passengers in an alien smuggling criminal defense case is noteworthy.
Not Just Transportation
We’ve talked about physically transporting undocumented persons or helping them find safe housing, which can both place you on the wrong side of a criminal defense case. Another very common crime under alien smuggling is employing undocumented persons. If you are a business owner who knowingly hired someone who does not have legal status, you are at risk for alien smuggling charges.
The same is true when it comes to false documents. The use of false documents does not just mean a forged or fake document, but it also means lending someone your ID that an undocumented person fraudulently uses. Even though these two means of helping undocumented may not directly involve your presence, you are liable if the person you employ or helped with documents is apprehended.
These are some of the many ways this broad statute can result in trouble for you and your family.
If you are a business owner questioning your potential vulnerability under the law, you’re an individual who might be in trouble, or perhaps you have a family member or friend with questions about this broad statute and potential criminal charges, please reach out to us at Peek & Toland.
We have long-handled immigration criminal defense cases and are well-equipped to defend your case, as well. Continue to follow our social media pages and this blog to keep up-to-date on the immigration issues that affect you and your loved ones.