San Diego Alien Smuggling Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with bringing in and/or harboring aliens in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, you need an aggressive, experienced and successful defense lawyer. Alien smuggling is a serious federal crime that can lead to a prison sentence of up to 10 years. Mary Frances Prévost is an aggressive alien smuggling and immigration crimes defense lawyer who represents clients in San Diego and the surrounding areas. To discuss your case, call (888) 909-7896 today.

Alien Smuggling Laws

Under federal law, it is a crime to bring a non-United States citizen who does not have permission or authority to enter the country into the United States to a location other than an official port of entry. For example, you can be prosecuted in federal court for transporting an undocumented immigrant across the border in your car. It is also illegal to transport a non-United States citizen into the country by way of an illegal border crossing area. Federal law also prohibits harboring an undocumented alien or otherwise helping a non-United States citizen get into or stay in the country.

A non-United States citizen, including anyone who is in the country on a temporary visa, can face deportation if he or she is caught smuggling an undocumented alien into the United States. If you are deported for smuggling, harboring, or otherwise helping an undocumented alien get into the United States, you may be forbidden from returning to the country.

Alien Smuggling under 8 U.S.C. § 1324

Alien smuggling is prohibited under 8 U.S.C. § 1324, a federal statute titled “bringing in and harboring certain aliens.” This provision of the United States Code proscribes the following activities:

  • Bringing an alien to the United States;
  • Transporting or moving an illegal alien within the United States;
  • Harboring or concealing an illegal alien within the United States, and
  • Encouraging or inducing an illegal alien to enter the United States.

Federal prosecutors in San Diego most commonly charge defendants under one of two subsections of 8 U.S.C. § 1324. The first is 8 U.S.C. § 1324(a)(1)(A), which prohibits:

  • Bringing aliens to the United States,
  • Transporting aliens within the United States,
  • Harboring aliens within the United States;
  • Encouraging aliens to come to the United States, and
  • Conspiracy to commit, and aiding and abetting the commission of, any of these acts.

If you are convicted of transporting, harboring, or encouraging entry into the United States by an undocumented alien without financial gain, you can be sentenced to up to five years in federal prison.

The other common criminal charge pressed against defendants in San Diego and the surrounding areas is 8 U.S.C. 1324(a)(2). This section of the United States Code also prohibits bringing an alien into the United States. However, it carries different penalties than 8 U.S.C. § 1324(a)(1)(A). Under 8 U.S.C. 1324(a)(2), where an alien is brought into the United States but is not presented to immigration officials, a first or second offense carries a maximum 10-year sentence in federal prison. Where this crime is committed for profit or with reason to believe that the alien will commit a felony, the defendant is subject to a three-year mandatory minimum prison sentence and a 10-year statutory maximum prison sentence.

Defenses Against Alien Smuggling Charges

Federal immigration crimes are often difficult for prosecutors, judges, and juries to understand. It is extremely important that you hire a criminal defense attorney who has experience representing clients facing alien smuggling charges. The information in this section is not a substitute for legal advice. Only an experienced San Diego alien smuggling defense lawyer can tell you which defenses are available to you in your case.

Your defense options and strategy depend on a number of factors. The first and most important factor is whether you are a United States citizen. As discussed above, non-United States citizens who are charged with or convicted of alien smuggling can face deportation. An alien smuggling defense lawyer may be able to help you avoid the potential immigration consequences of a criminal conviction and remain in the United States. You may be eligible for a waiver that will allow you to remain in the United States regardless of the outcome of your case. You may also be able to establish that you were not involved in or did not commit the crime of alien smuggling.

The following defenses may apply in your case regardless of whether you are a United States citizen:

  • Fourth Amendment violations render evidence inadmissible;
  • Fifth Amendment violations render evidence inadmissible;
  • You are a member in an authorized nonprofit religious organization and were providing essential services to individuals in the United States illegally;
  • You were unaware that you were breaking the law or that the person you were accused of smuggling or harboring was in the country illegally;
  • You did not have the requisite intent to participate in a conspiracy to smuggle, harbor, or otherwise assist persons in the United States illegally; and/or
  • You did not actually participate in a conspiracy to smuggle, harbor, or otherwise assist persons in the United States illegally.

It is important to remember that in all criminal cases, including those involving alien smuggling, prosecutors are required to prove each and every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. An experienced alien smuggling defense lawyer can help disprove the prosecutor’s case against you in court.

Related Immigration Crimes

In addition to charges for alien smuggling, you may be facing charges for any of the following immigration crimes:

  • Identity theft
  • Contributing to the delinquency of a minor
  • Child endangerment
  • Child abduction
  • Human trafficking
  • Fraud

San Diego Alien Smuggling Defense Attorney

Mary Frances Prévost is dedicated to the zealous representation of clients in San Diego and the surrounding areas. If you have been charged in federal court with alien smuggling or a related offense, contact the Law Offices of Mary Frances Prévost to discuss your case. For a free and confidential consultation, call (888) 909-7896 today.