Alien Smuggling Defense Attorney in Naples
We specialize in complex federal cases carrying serious charges
The geographic positioning of Naples, Florida, on the Gulf Coast places it in within the corridors used to smuggle illegal aliens into the United States, particularly from the Caribbean. In recent years, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Attorney General have directed agents to make enforcement actions against alien smuggling a top priority. With so much attention on the issue, investigators will be following as many leads as possible. People under the scrutiny of law enforcement for this federal offense should take early action to learn about their rights by speaking with a Naples alien smuggling attorney.
Definition of alien smuggling
Knowingly bringing a non-U.S. citizen into the country without proper authorization or assisting in the process is a federal crime. According to federal statute 8 U.S.C. Section 1324, alien smuggling includes transporting, harboring or concealing an illegal alien within the United States as well as encouraging or inducing this activity. Criminality occurs regardless of whether the person is related to the accused or the accused profited from the action.
For fiscal year 2019, alien smuggling accounted for 13.1 percent of all people sentenced for immigration offenses according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission. In that year, the federal government convicted a total of 3,487 people for alien smuggling. Children are often involved in these activities with 15.5 percent of smuggling case including an unaccompanied minor. This situation can expose suspects to additional charges of child endangerment.
Conviction for transporting or aiding the entry of people into the country unlawfully carries significant penalties. Section 274 of the Immigration and Nationality Act states that:
- Alien smuggling activities that do not financially benefit the accused party is punishable by 5 years in prison.
- Alien smuggling done for profit increases the prison sentence to 10 years.
- Alien smuggling that results in injury calls for 20 years in prison.
- Alien smuggling that results in death can lead to life in prison.
Do not say anything that might incriminate you. Speak with an attorney first.
The potential for harsh sentencing makes legal representation imperative for individuals accused of participating in alien smuggling. The local case of an East Naples charter boat captain from 2017 illustrates the value of a committed defense attorney. The evidence against the 65-year-old man was clear. Agents who boarded his vessel in the Florida Keys found 5 Jamaican and 5 Haitian passengers, and the captain appeared to be in possession of a firearm and $20,000 in cash. The boat captain agreed to plead guilty to charges of encouraging and aiding aliens to enter the country, which called for 97 to 120 months in prison. His attorney succeeded in securing a sentence of 72 months in prison followed by probation for 3 years.
Possible defense strategies
Due to the scale and frequency of smuggling undocumented people, individuals may be involved in it without knowing that they played a role in an illegal operation. According to the law, guilt arises from a person knowingly committing an affirmative act that supports alien smuggling. An evaluation of the evidence in individual cases by an attorney might produce grounds to argue that a person did not knowingly contribute to the crime.
People accused of alien smuggling may also be exposed to federal criminal charges related to their alleged activities. Alien smuggling shares some characteristics with human trafficking. At times, it may involve identity theft or could inspire the offering of bribes to immigration and law enforcement agents. Abduction, child endangerment and fraud could enter the picture as well.
Retain a federal criminal defense attorney
People are naturally alarmed when approached by federal investigators asking questions about alien smuggling. Although suspects may wish to appear cooperative, they should not answer questions without first consulting an attorney at Joffe Law, P.A. We have defended over 1,100 federal cases, and we understand the tactics that investigators use to draw incriminating information out of people. By strongly asserting the Constitutional rights of our clients, we decrease the chance of self-incrimination. Even in the aftermath of an arrest, we can strive to leverage every weak area of evidence to discourage prosecutors from advancing a case. Consultations at our office in Naples are confidential, and it costs nothing to learn our legal opinion and recommendations about your situation.
FAQs: Alien Smuggling
Is alien smuggling the same as human trafficking?
In many cases, the people being smuggled enter the situation willingly and may have even paid for transport. Although people under the control of human traffickers sometimes start out as willing participants, human trafficking involves coercion and restriction of movement typically for the purpose of selling the victims’ sexual and physical labor. Although alien smuggling may cross over into human trafficking, it does not automatically involve kidnapping or forced labor.
How is identity theft related to alien smuggling?
Identity theft is a separate crime from alien smuggling. It occurs when people steal personal identification information, usually for the purpose of fraud. However, alien smugglers may also possess stolen identities that they provide or sell to illegal aliens.