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Transporting Undocumented Immigrants | Lawyers for the Accused

Transporting Undocumented Immigrants2023-11-30T17:20:53+00:00

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Transporting Undocumented Immigrants|Lawyers & Attorneys

The federal government typically prosecutes the highest-level offenses. Drugs, child pornography, and fraud are all crimes both at the federal and state level, leaving usually only the most serious of these allegations proceeding in federal court. For immigration, however, it remains the exclusive power of the federal government to investigate and prosecute these crimes. When individuals cross the Canadian/United States border, short of perhaps a minor trespass, there is nothing that New York State would typically do.

The federal government criminalizes all sorts of activities involved with illegal immigration – the individual crossing the border; anyone who assists them in actually doing so; and the aid provided to them once they have entered improperly. Transporting or driving someone who entered illegally into the United States is very serious. You should consult with an attorney if you are alleged to be involved in any way with illegal entries, since the number or type of charges could vary.

Frequently Asked Questions About Transporting Illegal Aliens

Our criminal defense lawyers provide answers to some important questions below.

What could I be charged with if I pick up someone who crossed the border illegally?2023-11-30T17:06:43+00:00

There could be many charges if you pick up someone who crossed the border illegally, however the main charge you would expect is an allegation that you violated 8 U.S.C. 1324, which criminalizes transporting or moving someone who crossed illegally.

What are the elements, or what does the government have to prove, to convict me of transporting illegal aliens?2023-11-30T17:06:19+00:00

First, the government would have to show that one or more people entered illegally. Second, that you either knew or recklessly disregarded the fact that they entered illegally. Third, that you transported them inside the U.S. (picked them up in a car). And fourth, that you acted willfully in a manner that furthered their illegal entry.

This is a fifth element that elevates, or makes the crime more serious, if it is alleged that you committed this offense for commercial advantage or private financial gain.

How serious is being charged with transporting undocumented immigrants? Will I go to prison?2023-11-30T17:05:59+00:00

Potentially, yes. This crime is a felony. There are various aggravating factors that will play into your case. Beyond the monetary element mentioned above, any of the following can affect you:

  • How many undocumented aliens is it alleged were in your vehicle?
  • Did anyone suffer a physical or serious physical injury or was anyone’s life in jeopardy?
  • Is it alleged that you did this before?
  • How much money did you stand to receive or actually receive?

Any number of the above circumstances will affect your sentence if convicted.

How much prison time am I facing?2023-12-05T19:52:05+00:00

In the event you are charged with the least serious circumstances, generally this is your first offense, no one got hurt, and it was only one or two illegal aliens, your case will likely have a five (5) year maximum sentence, or ten (10) if done for financial gain. Thankfully there is no mandatory minimum sentence, meaning the Judge does not HAVE to sentence you to prison.

If other circumstances exist, such as this is your second time doing this – even if never formally convicted of it – you may face a three (3) year mandatory minimum along with a ten (10) year maximum. That means that if you are convicted under these circumstances, even if the Judge believes you should receive no prison time, by law, they would be required to sentence you to at least three (3) years.

Alternatively, if the most severe aggravating factors exist, your mandatory minimum could increase to five (5) years, and your maximum penalty up to fifteen (15) years.

If I am facing a charge with a mandatory minimum sentence, is there a way to avoid prison?2023-11-30T17:05:27+00:00

If at the very end of the day, you are going to be sentenced for such a case, then no, the Judge is required to sentence you to at least the minimum. However, there are ways to potentially avoid a mandatory minimum sentence prior. This is why getting a good defense attorney as soon as possible after you are arrested is critical. There are ways to potentially avoid such sentences at the start of the case and become more difficult as the case progresses.

What should I do when I am arrested?2023-11-30T17:05:08+00:00

Do not waive any of your rights. Law enforcement, border patrol, or others may try to speak with you, try to gain confessions to key facts or elements, and most importantly may try to get consent to search you or your property – most importantly your cell phone.

Invoke your right to remain silent and your right to have an attorney. Ultimately, giving a voluntary statement to law enforcement may actually help or assist your case. But that is never the case unless an attorney is with you, having gone over your case with you, and having spoken to the government to ensure you are protected in doing so. By speaking early on, you can make your case harder to defend and potentially increase your penalties.

I did not know the people I picked up were here illegally, can I still be charged?2023-12-05T19:53:16+00:00

This is one of the most common issues these cases present. You can be convicted for this crime if you “knew or recklessly disregarded the fact” that the people you picked up were here illegally. So even if you truly did not know, if there are facts and circumstances that make a reasonable person (like a juror) believe you ‘recklessly disregarded’ the fact they were likely here illegally, you CAN be convicted. The following types of facts are SOME of the many circumstances that could be relevant to a finding:

  • How close to the border did you pick them up?
  • How did they approach your car? From the woods? From down a random street?
  • Did they speak English?
  • How was it planned for you to pick them up? With them directly or with a third party?
  • Do you drive for a living? Were you offered a large amount of money, including more than you normally would for driving someone?
  • Did the circumstance get set up through normal channels, texts, and calls, or were applications like What’s App used to mask or hide the communications?
  • Have you, or someone close to you, immigrated to the United States and therefore have some knowledge as to the legal and proper way to enter?
  • Have you, or someone close to you, crossed into the country illegally, and therefore have some knowledge as to the illegal ways people enter?

Any number of these factors, and many more, could affect whether you could be found to have ‘recklessly disregarded’ the fact the individuals had crossed the border illegally. But it is important to reiterate, even if you truly did not know they had crossed improperly, you could still be guilty of this serious offense.

 

I have been arrested and I exercised my rights, what should I do next?2023-11-30T17:02:39+00:00

Contact friends or family that can help you get an experienced attorney right away. Things will move very quickly. You will have a detention hearing scheduled soon after your arrest to determine if you are a flight risk or are a danger to the community. This is important as the government may seek to have you incarcerated while your case is pending. From there, there are many critical decisions you will need to make, which you can only do with the advice of counsel. Often, these decisions are non-reversible, meaning once the decision is made, you cannot go back. So therefore, knowing everything possible to make the best decision for your own circumstance is critical.

Timeline of a Criminal Defense Case

LaMarche Safranko Law Testimonials

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Vicki Testimonial Transcript
Well, I met George in 2014. My son was arrested for a criminal offense, and George—he has this ability, it’s just who he is. He’s genuinely empathetic and he’s very compassionate and he has the ability to just make you feel safe. You know? I just always felt I was in great hands and my son was in good hands and that we would have a good outcome of our situation and we always have. And he’s brilliant. He’s a brilliant lawyer. He’s very skilled and very creative. He has excellent rapport with all the judges and DAs and officials, and he’s always found a rehabilitative outcome for my son which I genuinely appreciate.

Laurie Testimonial Transcript
George was referred to me by my estate attorney. They go way back and it was a great referral, I don’t think I could have done any better, it was a very good match for me. Something that was really really instrumental in the whole thing was George keeping us up-to-date on what was going on and very much included. I was invited to be at all the depositions if I wanted to be and he gave me all the written depositions to read through, so I was always up-to-date on what was going on and I felt like a part of the process. I would definitely recommend George to other people. In fact, about 2 weeks ago I did. A friend of mine was in a pedestrian car accident, she was the pedestrian and is in pretty rough shape, and he was the first person I thought of so I actually asked him if it would be in his purview and he said yes. And I know that she’s very happy with him so far.

Jules Testimonial Transcript
What brought me to the firm was a personal incident where Andrew was recommended to me very highly by a family friend who’s also an attorney, and Andrew represented me to great satisfaction in that case. What impressed me the most about Andrew was his direct straightforward approach, and he has this incredible way of setting you at ease and yet telling you the good and the bad of a situation. I felt that he was very much a straight shooter and lived up to the reputation that preceded him. I would recommend them and Andrew Safranko to anybody in the world. They’re just that class of a group of people.

Chuck Testimonial Transcript
Well, I came to LaMarche Safranko Law because I knew Andy was here and he’s helped me in the past and I just feel so comfortable coming to him because you know you’re going to get the best outcome that you can get in a criminal law field. He’s done such a fabulous job for me and I’ve seen what he does for me, so I’m sure he’ll do the same—put out the same effort and energy and zeal it takes to win their case like he has mine. I would feel very comfortable recommending him.

“I can honestly say that the best decision I’ve ever made was retaining George LaMarche as my attorney. I was in a situation where everything wasat risk; my career, livelihood, and the ability to provide for my family. In desperation, I contacted over a dozen attorneys. The majority of the lawyers I spoke with promised results without seeing paperwork or knowing valuable facts….

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A client from Albany, NY

“Dear Andy,

Thank you so much for everything you have done for our son over the last three years.  This has been a very challenging time for our family and the knowledge that our son has an attorney as capable and amazing as you are has given us peace of mind!

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Parents of a client from Cropseyville, NY

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A client from Rensselaer, NY

“No one likes to be in a bad situation, but if you need a lawyer George is your man. Not only does he point you in the right direction he offers good advice for your future. As much as we bring him business he does not encourage that next time anticipation….

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A client from Albany, NY

“Throughout the attorney client relationship regarding my personal injury lawsuit, George and his staff continually exhibited tremendous amounts of legal knowledge, skill, and a vast amount of expert resources that ultimately resulted in a final judgment in my favor.  George was there every step of the way to explain where we stood and what to expect next and there was never a need to question his professional judgment…

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A client from Troy, NY

“The arrest of my husband in 2008 was an extremely difficult and emotional time for our family. The arrest turned our lives upside down. It was sudden and unexpected and had tragic emotional as well as financial consequences. I had no idea what to do under the circumstances….

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A client from Upstate New York

“My family and I cannot thank George and his staff enough for all of the support and guidance they have given us over the past six months. Anyone who has ever suffered a personal injury knows how difficult they are to overcome, but I’m glad we had such an intelligent and hardworking attorney on our side so I could focus on my recovery rather than on the details of the case….

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“I am an attorney who found himself in the middle of a serious, personal legal matter that compromised not only my personal life but my professional life as well. I immediately contacted Andrew (Andy) Safranko, Esq. Andy worked tirelessly and extremely hard to bring my legal situation to a very favorable resolution. In so doing, Andy not only saved certain aspects of my personal and professional life

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“The staff at LaMarche Safranko Law took care of  whatever I needed, it was just fabulous. It was top shelf, if I called, I got George. If he was in a meeting, they left him a message. He called me right back after the meeting. Everybody was very courteous and very nice there. If I left a voicemail, everybody got back to me quickly. The level of service  was very, very good and I would Highly recommend them.”

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A personal injury client from Cohoes, NY

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A client from Schenectady, NY
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