In California, under federal laws, it is illegal to bring in or harbor illegal aliens. These are people who have come into the United States under false pretenses or who have stayed past their visa expiration date. It is illegal to come in to the country from any location other than an official port of entry, to drive an un undocumented immigrant across the border in a vehicle and to transport a non-citizen into the country by using an illegal border crossing area. Additionally, it is illegal to harbor or help an illegal alien get into the country.
Under 8 USC § 1324, a federal statute regarding bringing in and harboring illegal aliens, states the actions that follow are illegal:
Most commonly, people are charged under one of the two subsections of the 8 USC § 1324 statute. The first subsection, 8 U.S.C. § 1324(a)(1)(A) prohibits bringing aliens in to the country, transporting them in the country, harboring them, encouraging them to enter the country illegally and a conspiracy to commit or help any one of the aforementioned acts. If you are convicted of any of the above-mentioned crimes without financial gain you can get a maximum of 5 years in federal prison. The second subsection, 8 U.S.C. 1324(a)(2), prohibits the same things as the first subsection but the penalties it carries are different. Under this section when someone is brought into the country illegally and they are not presented to immigration officials they can spend u to 10 years in federal prison. If there is the belief that you did this for profit, you may be subject to a three-year mandatory prison sentence and a 10-year statutory maximum sentence.
It is pertinent that you hire a criminal defense attorney if you are charged with a crime of this nature because they are best suited to understand the charges, analyze the evidence and make sure that your rights are being protected. The strategies and options you have for a defense depend on some factors. They depend on whether or not you are a citizen because if you are not a citizen you can face deportation. Other factors that would affect the admissibility of evidence in your case depend on whether there were any violations of the Fourth Amendment or under the Fifth Amendment. Another factor to consider is whether you were aware that you were breaking the law or if you simply lacked the knowledge and therefore the intent. It is important to remember that the prosecutors must prove each and every element of the crime before they can secure a conviction. If they cannot prove an element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, then a jury cannot convict you.
If you or a loved one is facing a smuggling charge, you need an aggressive Orange County criminal defense lawyer on your side. With offices in Costa Mesa, we serve people throughout Southern California, including in Huntington Beach, Irvine, Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, and Los Angeles. Call (855) 505-5588 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.