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.