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What Are Common Illegal Immigration Charges?

Categories: Criminal Law & Process

common illegal immigration charges

Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP is a team of former Department of Justice prosecutors and veteran federal defense attorneys that represent individuals in federal criminal cases. Our clients benefit from our broad experience with the federal criminal justice system as both prosecutors and defense counsel. If you have questions or if you want to discuss a situation with us, you should contact one of our senior attorneys today directly. All consultations are free and confidential.

Do You Need Help?

Are you in the middle of an immigration case? Do you need help and guidance to protect your freedom? Do you need experienced attorneys that are familiar with the federal justice system? Has someone in your family been arrested or taken into custody? Is there a court hearing coming up?

If so, this is what you need to know.

The Department of Justice has begun to intensify law enforcement efforts against illegal immigration. Today, immigration prosecutions occur across the country and it is very important for those affected to prepare a defense plan. With penalties ranging from deportation to many years in prison, it is critical to be represented by experienced attorneys.

We can help you. We have the experience to end, mitigate, dismiss, or resolve federal investigations. Our team of former federal prosecutors and experienced defense attorneys understand how the government is building a case and what to do against it. Clients from across the United States continue to enjoy their freedom, their reputation, and their family life because of the work results of our attorneys. We would be delighted to do the same for you.

Most importantly: don’t wait. Nothing is more effective than a forceful early legal defense strategy to stop a government investigation. If you want to discuss your case or your situation with us, you should call one of our senior attorneys today. Calls are free and absolutely confidential.

Important Immigration Offenses Explained

The following is a list of federal criminal offenses that are frequently charged in the context of importing, transporting, or hiding illegal aliens. If you have questions about these offenses or if you want to discuss a situation, you should contact one of our senior attorneys for a free and confidential consultation.

  • Bringing in Aliens [8 U.S.C. § 1234(a)(1)(A)(i)]: A person commits the crime of “bringing in aliens” by knowingly bringing, or attempting to bring, an alien into the country by means of a place other than a designated port of entry with the intent to illegally bring aliens into the United States.  An “alien” is a person who is neither a citizen nor a legal resident of the United States.

    The punishment for “bringing in aliens” ranges from a sentence of up to ten years in federal prison to a death sentence or life in prison if the violation results in the death of a person, in addition to criminal fines. The court may consider aggravating factors when determining the sentence, such as whether the offense was committed for the purpose of commercial advantage or private gain or whether the offense resulted in personal injury or death. [8 U.S.C. § 1234(a)(1)(B)].

  • Unlawfully Transporting Aliens [8 U.S.C. § 1234(a)(1)(A)(ii)]: A person may be guilty of “unlawfully transporting aliens” if he transports an alien within the United States with knowledge or reckless disregard of the alien’s unlawful presence and with the intent of furthering the alien’s unlawful presence.

    An “alien” is a person who is neither a citizen nor a legal resident of the United States.  A person has “reckless disregard” for an alien’s unlawful status if that person consciously disregards facts or circumstances that should have informed the person that the alien was unlawfully present in the United States.

    Importantly, the person’s purpose in transporting the alien must be to continue the alien’s unlawful presence in the United States; merely transporting an illegal alien is not a violation of this law, even if doing so has the incidental effect of furthering the alien’s unlawful presence.

    The punishment for unlawfully transporting aliens ranges from a sentence of up to five years in federal prison to a death sentence, or life in prison if the violation results in the death of a person, in addition to criminal fines.  Aggravating factors that may increase maximum penalties include whether the offense was committed for the purpose of commercial advantage or private gain and whether offense resulted in serious bodily injury or death. [8 U.S.C. § 1234(a)(1)(B)].

  • Concealing or Harboring Aliens [8 U.S.C. § 1234(a)(1)(A)(iii)]: A person commits the crime of “concealing or harboring aliens” by concealing an alien within the United States in a manner that tends to substantially facilitate the alien illegally remaining in the United States with knowledge or reckless disregard of the alien’s illegal status.

    An “alien” is a person who is neither a citizen nor a legal resident of the United States.  A person has “reckless disregard” for an alien’s unlawful status if that person consciously disregards facts or circumstances that should have informed the person that the alien was unlawfully present in the United States.

    The punishment for this crime ranges from a sentence of up to five years in federal prison to a death sentence or life in prison if the violation results in the death of a person, in addition to criminal fines.  Aggravating factors that may increase maximum penalties include whether the offense was committed for the purpose of commercial advantage or private gain and whether offense resulted in serious bodily injury or death. [8 U.S.C. § 1234(a)(1)(B)].

  • Illegal Reentry following Deportation [8 U.S.C. § 1326]: A person commits the crime of “illegal reentry following deportation” when a person who has previously been denied admission from the United States knowingly enters the United States without the consent of the United States Attorney General.

    The person need not intend to violate the law by re-entering the United States; the person violates this law by voluntarily re-entering the country after being deported.  However, merely approaching a United States port of entry and seeking admission does not violate this law.

    Punishment for illegal reentry following deportation includes criminal fines and/or up to two years imprisonment, which may be increased to up to 20 years imprisonment if the alien has a criminal history within the United States.

  • Misrepresentation of Citizenship [18 U.S.C. § 911]: A person may be guilty of “misrepresentation of citizenship” if he deliberately, and willfully states that he is a United States citizen when he knows is not a United States citizen at the time of the statement.  Punishment for misrepresentation of citizenship includes criminal fines and/or a maximum of three years in federal prison.
  • Aiding and Abetting [18 U.S.C. § 2]: “Aiding and abetting” occurs when a person is associated with a criminal venture and that person purposefully participated in the criminal venture for the purpose of making the venture successful.

    A person “associates with a criminal venture” if that person shared the criminal intent of the individuals who performed the criminal acts.  The person must have knowledge of the criminal nature of the activities and must deliberately associate himself with the criminal venture.  Thus, merely witnessing a crime occur would not amount to associating with the criminal venture.

    The person need not directly participate in the criminal venture in order to be guilty of this crime.  The person may participate through the actions of an agent working under the direction of that person.  However, in order to participate, the person must take some affirmative actions with the purpose of furthering the criminal venture or assisting the perpetrator of the crime.

    The punishment for aiding and abetting a crime is equivalent to that of the underlying crime.  Where a person participates in a criminal venture through an agent, that person will face the same punishment as if the person performed the actions himself.

  • Accessory After the Fact [18 U.S.C. § 3]: A person is an “accessory after the fact” if he knew of another’s commission of a crime and assisted the other person with the intent of hindering that person’s apprehension or conviction.

    Importantly, the underlying crime need not prosecuted or even prosecutable for one to be guilty of being an accessory after the fact.  Additionally, the person’s actions need not actually hinder apprehension or conviction of the perpetrator of the underlying crime or even influence the investigation of the underlying crime.

    The punishment for acting as an accessory after the fact is determined in relation to the punishment for the underlying crime.  A person found guilty of being an accessory after the fact faces up to one-half of the maximum criminal fines for the underlying crime and up to one-half of the maximum term of imprisonment for the underlying crime, up to a maximum of fifteen years if the underlying crime is punishable by death.

Do You Have Questions?

If you have questions about immigration offenses or if you want to speak to a former federal prosecutor or experienced federal defense attorney, you should contact our senior attorneys today. All consultations are free and 100% confidential.

Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP
Federal Criminal Defense
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