IMMIGRATION/BOARDER CROSSING/ALIEN SMUGGLING

With its close proximity to Canada, The Eastern District of Michigan is a boarder jurisdiction which means the government prosecutes a high number of immigration and boarder crossing offenses such as illegal entry and immigration document fraud. Often times, a defendant is not in the country legally and therefore getting a bond granted requires more skill and expertise. Depending on the circumstances, these cases generally have low sentencing guidelines and the Federal Bench can be perusaded to give more lenient sentences often giving time served and no probation. The Department of Justice is presently attempting to implement a fast track system for our jurisdiction but it is not here yet. To get out of jail quickly, a defendant needs an attorney that knows the system, prosecutors and probation officials to get you through the system and out of custody quickly. Barton Morris knows all the key players including the prosecutors making a favorable negotiation more likely.

This being a boarder jurisdiction, Alien Smuggling cases are prosecuted at high numbers as well. These cases include bringing an alien in the United States, transporting one within the United States and knowingly harboring or employing an alien. Federal law also prohibits assisting or conspiring to perform such activates. Aggravating the potential penalty are factors that include the number of aliens involved, the creation of danger, and the purpose of the smuggling like for prostitution, money laundering or controlled substance traffickers.

Some offenses carry a mandatory minimum prison sentence of three to fifteen years for each alien if the alien is smuggled into the country for financial gain or of the smuggler has reason to believe the alien will commit a felony within the country. Brining an alien to the boarder which is not an official port of entry can also bring enhanced penalties.

The federal offense of Knowingly Transporting an Alien requires the transportation be “in furtherance of the violation” which means the offending has the intent to support or promote the alien’s illegal presence. If transporting an alien to another state, a good defense exists if the transportation was for employment with the intent to promote their health and well being and not to escape prosecution or evade the law. Relevant considerations include whether there was driving late at night, or at high speeds, avoiding check points, or measures taken to conceal the aliens such as tinted windows or the use of hidden compartments.

Harboring an alien charges involve concealing or shielding from protection an illegal alien in reckless disregard of that fact and they commonly arise in connection with safe houses used in the course of smuggling, forced labor cases. There is a religious organization exception which provides a defense for encouraging, inviting, allowing or enabling an alien to be a minister or missionary so long as that alien is already present and receives no compensation expect for living expenses and has been a member of the denomination for more that one year.

Federal prosecutions also occur when someone knowingly employs an illegal alien especially when it involves a pattern or practice. it is a misdemeanor offense carrying no jail time unless the accused knowingly hires10 or more persons who were brought into the United States for that purpose which is a felony with up to five years in prison possible.

As stated, there are several defenses to these cases including want of specific intent, knowledge of the alien’s illegal status, duress, Fourth and Fifth Amendment issues,.

Often the “knowingly” element of these offenses provide a legitimate defense. Asserting this defense, as well as others, will often place the government in a position which brings favorable resolution scenarios.