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Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer Explains Customs Offenses

customs law violationThere are strict laws in place in the United States regarding the importation and exportation of goods and services into the country.

A violation of these laws could result in you being charged with a federal criminal offense, being fined, and potentially being imprisoned for a lengthy period of time depending upon the nature of the violation you’ve been accused of.

When you are accused of a federal offense for violating customs laws, it is important that you are represented by a skilled and experienced attorney who knows the ins-and-outs of customs laws and who will help you to develop the right strategic approach to responding to criminal charges.

LV Criminal Defense can provide help to clients in Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and California who are facing legal issues for allegedly violating customs laws.

We can work closely with you to assess the evidence against you and develop a defense strategy so you can protect your future. You should give us a call as soon as you have been charged to find out more about how our firm can help you.

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Federal Laws on Crimes Related to Customs

Federal laws on crimes related to customs are found in 18 U.S. Code section 27. There are 15 different statutes within the relevant section of the United States code that you should be aware of. These different statutes address criminal offenses such as:

  • Entering goods that have been falsely classified so their true character is not declared to customs officials (18 U.S. code section 541)
  • Making false statements in order to secure the entry of goods into the United States (18 U.S. code section 542)
  • Entering goods into the United States but paying less than the legal duty on those goods (18 U.S. code section 543)
  • Re-landing of goods (18 U.S. code section 544)
  • Smuggling any type of goods into the United States without following proper procedures for declaring the goods. (18 U.S. code section 545)
  • Smuggling any goods into foreign countries without following the laws for declaring the items being brought in (18 U.S. code section 546)
  • Depositing goods in buildings that are located on boundaries. (18 U.S. code section 547)
  • Removing goods or repacking goods within warehouses (18 U.S. code section 548)
  • Removing goods from the custody of customs or breaking seals (18 U.S. code section 549)
  • Making a false claim in order to get duties refunded. (18 U.S. code section 550)
  • Concealing invoices, destroying invoices, or destroying or concealing other relevant papers that could be relevant to a customs declaration (18 U.S. code section 551)
  • Officers providing aid to import treasonous books or treasonous articles or officers providing aid to important obscene books or articles (18 U.S. code section 552)
  • Importing or exporting stolen motor vehicles, stolen off-highway mobile equipment, or stolen vessels or aircrafts (18 U.S. code section 553)
  • Smuggling goods from the United States (18 U.S. code section 554)
  • Becoming involved with the creation or use of border tunnels and/or passages intended for the purpose of moving goods across borders without going through customs (18 U.S. code section 555)

Each of the different statutes that are located within 18 U.S. Code Chapter 27 specifies exactly what a prosecutor would need to prove in order to secure a conviction for that particular federal offense. It is important to understand the nature of the crime you have been accused of and what a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

For example, if you have been charged with smuggling goods into the United States in violation of 18 U.S. Code section 545, you can be found guilty of this offense if you knowingly and willfully smuggle or clandestinely introduce any merchandise into the United States that should have been invoiced. You could also be charged for attempting to smuggle or clandestinely introduce merchandise that should have been invoiced, or for making, passing, or attempting to pass forged or fraudulent invoices or documents through a customshouse.

In order for you to be convicted under 18 U.S. Code section 545, the prosecutor would not only need to prove you acted willfully in bringing in the items or presenting fake documents to customs but also that your intent in taking these actions was to defraud the United States.

You can also be charged under this same statute for fraudulently or knowingly importing any merchandise in violation of U.S. law, or for receiving, concealing, buying, selling, or otherwise facilitating the transfer, concealment or sale of merchandise that has been smuggled into the U.S. In this case, you could be convicted of this offense only if you knew that the material had been brought into the United States contrary to law.

The statute makes clear that proof of possession of smuggled goods, or goods being smuggled, can be deemed to be sufficient evidence for a defendant to be found to have violated 18 U.S. code section 545, unless the defendant can explain his or her possession to the extent necessary to satisfy the judge.

If you are convicted of this federal offense, you could face a period of imprisonment for up to 20 years and you could also be fined in addition to being imprisoned.

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Getting Help from a Federal Criminal Defense Attorney

Defending yourself against charges of smuggling goods into the United States is complicated but essential. You want to ensure that you have a federal criminal defense lawyer who understands U.S. customs laws and who knows how to help you fight serious charges when you are accused of violating them.

LV Criminal Defense can help if you’re in Arizona, California, Nevada or Utah and you have been charged with a violation of any customs crimes or any federal laws. Give us a call today to find out more about the ways in which our firm can help you.

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