Immigration offenses are among the crimes taken most seriously by the state and Federal governments. While the crimes are separate in nature and in possible penalties, they can have an enormous impact on anyone unfortunate enough to be accused of them. Four of the most common are:
- Alien smuggling is prohibited by Title 8, Sec. 1324, of the United States Criminal Code. It prohibits anyone from bringing a known alien into the United States without going through a designated port of entry or other authorized location. It also prohibits anyone from harboring, moving or transporting within the United States an alien who is known to be in the country illegally, or from encouraging or assisting an alien to enter or remain here illegally. (It does not matter whether the alien has previously been authorized to legally enter or live in the United States.)
- Human trafficking is prohibited by Title 18, Secs. 1589, 1590, and 1591 of the Code. These statutes define and prohibit the use of forced labor, and also outlaw the recruiting, harboring, transporting, or obtaining of individuals for forced labor or for commercial sexual purposes (particularly involving children).
- Reentry of removed aliens is prohibited by Title 8, Sec. 1326 of the United States Criminal Code. A conviction on this charge carries up to 2 years in prison if the removed alien reenters the United States without a prior felony conviction. However, if the person was originally removed because of convictions for three or more crimes against the person, misdemeanor drug offenses, or both, the maximum penalty goes up to 10 years in prison; and if the person was removed pursuant to a conviction for an aggravated felony (as defined in the Immigration and Nationality Act), the penalty goes up to 20 years in prison. (Of course, the alien will again be deported at the completion of the sentence.)
- Visa fraud and similar offenses are prohibited by Title 18, U.S.Code 1546. Visa fraud occurs whenever a visa applicant gives false information to the federal government in order to obtain a visa. If an alien enters the U.S. on a tourist visa or through a Visa Waiver Program, intending to remain longer than the lawful stay, a violation has occurred. Also, sham marriage, in which a “couple” feigns an intimate relationship strictly for the purpose of obtaining a K-1 or K-3 visa (which are reserved exclusively for legitimate engaged and married couples), is another form of visa fraud.
While certain Florida state statutes (Secs. 787.06 and 787.07) also address alien smuggling and human trafficking crimes, these prosecutions are more frequently handled in the Federal court system, either because of the U.S. government’s exclusive role in enforcing its immigration laws, or because the acts involved may cross state lines (e.g., violations by migrant farm labor contractors). In any event, these accusations carry major penalties upon conviction—up to life in prison, in fact, if death or serious bodily harm results from a violation.
To effectively answer such serious charges, an experienced trial attorney is critical. No one should take on the Federal or state government alone. To contact our office, call us at 877-547-9407, or email us at Tony@TonyMossLaw.com.