Alien Smuggling Defense
Houston Alien Smuggling Defense :: The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp
Texas is a hotspot of illegal people smuggling. The law enforcement community has devoted significant resources to preventing human smuggling. The illegal smuggling of immigrants can lead to criminal charges and imprisonment. Anyone that becomes involved in an human smuggling investigation should speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Illegal immigration smuggling is a violation of federal law. The following smuggling activities are prohibited:
- Bringing an alien immigrant into the United States at any location other than an authorized port of entry
- Transporting an alien without proper authorization
- Protecting, harboring or concealing an alien
- Encouraging aliens to enter the United States illegally
Illegal People Smuggling Penalties
Depending on the nature of the alleged offense and the defendant’s previous criminal record, conviction on illegal immigration smuggling charges is punishable by two to 20 years in a Texas Prison. The following aggravating factors can increase the severity of the sentence:
- Smuggling an alien for the purpose of financial gain
- Placing someone’s life in danger while engaging in smuggling
- Engaging in a repeat smuggling offense
Human Smuggling Defense
The immigration laws of the United States are extremely complex. Only an experienced human smuggling lawyer is prepared to identify flaws in the prosecution’s case and negotiate a reduction in charges or case dismissal.
An affirmative defense may be available in some people smuggling cases. The first affirmative defense requires a defendant to prove that they hold membership in an authorized nonprofit religious organization. The leader of such an organization may be authorized to provide essential shelter or food for individuals that are in the United States illegally. It must be shown that the defendant held membership in the nonprofit organization for no less than one year. This legal protection does not apply in instances that involve smuggling aliens across the U.S. border.
Another possible affirmative defense is available when it can be shown that the defendant was unaware that the alleged offense was against the law. Certain smuggling crimes require the prosecution to prove the intent of the defendant. An experienced Houston criminal defense attorney may be able to present evidence that mitigates the claims of the federal prosecutor.