Federal law strictly regulates the types of products that are shipped into and out of the country. Unfortunately, in its efforts to enforce these regulations, the federal government often accuses those who are innocent of unlawful smuggling. This can have devastating consequences for the accused’s personal and business relationships, so if you have been charged with smuggling or a similar federal offense, it is important to consult with an experienced federal crime attorney who can ensure that your interests are protected.
Smuggling Items into the U.S.
Under federal law, businesses and individuals are prohibited from:
- Smuggling or secretly introducing merchandise into the U.S. that should have been invoiced;
- Trying to pass any forged, false, or fraudulent invoices or documents through customs;
- Fraudulently importing illegal merchandise into the country; and
- Receiving, concealing, buying, selling, or facilitating the transportation, sale, or concealment of illegal merchandise after importation.
In order to be convicted of this offense, prosecutors must also be able to prove that the defendant knowingly imported the material and had the intent to do so unlawfully. Similarly, a person or business cannot be convicted of selling smuggled materials unless they knew that the material was imported illegally. However, proof that a defendant possessed smuggled goods is considered sufficient evidence to justify conviction, unless a satisfactory explanation for the possession can be given to the jury.
Those who are convicted of this offense could end up spending as many as 20 years in prison. Additionally, all merchandise found to be illegally smuggled will be forfeited to the U.S.
Unlawfully Smuggling Goods Outside of the U.S.
Federal law also prohibits smuggling certain products, merchandise, or objects out of the U.S. It is similarly unlawful to receive, conceal, buy, sell, or facilitate the transportation of this type of merchandise before it is officially exported. Again, prosecutors will be required to prove that the defendant knew that the merchandise was unlawfully intended to be smuggled out of the country in order to obtain a conviction. For this reason, proving that a defendant lacked intent to defraud the U.S. is the prime way to avoid conviction for illegal smuggling. This is especially true in cases where the defendant was not found in possession of the merchandise in question. Alternatively, defendants can argue that the evidence against them was the result of an unlawful search or seizure or that they were mistakenly identified. Disproving eyewitness testimony is often crucial in this endeavor. Formulating a strong defense to these types of charges is important, because those who are convicted face hefty fines and up to ten years imprisonment.
Call Today for Help with Your Case
Federal offenses are notorious for their extremely harsh penalties, making it especially important for defendants to contact an attorney about their legal options. To speak with an experienced Miami federal crime lawyer about your own pending charges, please call Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. at 305-670-9919 today. A member of our legal team is standing by to help you throughout your case.