Non-residents need to have a visa or other documentation to gain legal entry into the United States. It can be a crime to help someone gain entry into the United States if they don't have legal authority to be here. This is true whether the person being assisted is a loved one or a complete stranger.
Alien smuggling entails helping someone enter the United States that isn't legally allowed in the country. Alien smuggling is a federal crime, and it can carry severe penalties if convicted.
There are a number of actions that may be considered alien smuggling. These actions include but are not limited to:
- Knowingly bringing or attempting to bring a noncitizen into the United States, regardless if they have legal authority to be in the country
- Attempting to conceal or harbor someone that has entered the United States illegally
- Encouraging someone to enter the country illegally
- Transporting or offering to transport someone that is not in the United States legally
Defending against an alien smuggling charge
Facing alien smuggling charges can be scary. If convicted, the penalties could include a fine, prison time or both. That's why it's so important to act quickly and have a strong defense plan in place.
Alien smuggling charges stem from someone "knowingly" assisting someone with unlawful entry into the United States. A lack of knowledge is one of the most common methods used to defend against these charges.
Claiming a lack of knowledge could be achieved in a number of ways. A language barrier could have prevented someone from gaining knowledge of the status of the alien. Prior interactions that led you to believe the alien had lawful entry into the United States could also be considered a lack of knowledge.
Alien smuggling is a felony, and the charges should be treated seriously. Taking prompt action when facing alien smuggling charges may help a defendant achieve a more favorable outcome.