Passport and Visa Crimes Explained by Federal Defense Attorney
Passports and visas of the United States are not available to just anyone and these formal official documents cannot be used by just anyone. There are strict rules in place regarding who is eligible for a visa or passport and who may utilize a U.S. visa or passport.
Those who violate rules on passports and visas could actually be charged with a federal crime, which means that conviction could result in very harsh penalties including incarceration in a federal prison.
You want to do everything you can to avoid conviction or reduce penalties associated with conviction if you have been accused of crimes connected to passports and visas, and this starts with reaching out to an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer who knows how to help you develop a strategy for responding to federal charges.
LV Criminal Defense can help. Through our extensive experience representing clients in Arizona, California, Utah, Nevada, and Oregon, we have developed a deep knowledge of how to best represent clients accused of federal offenses including crimes related to passports and visas.
When you want a trusted, compassionate and knowledgeable advocate on your side to fight for you, give us a call today.
Federal Laws On Passports and Visas
18 U.S. Code Chapter 75 is the part of the federal penal code that defines the types of conduct related to passports and visas that can result in a defendant facing federal criminal charges. Within 18 U.S. Code Chapter 75, there are a total of seven different statutes, including the following:
- 18 U.S. Code section 1541: Issuance without authority: Under this statute, a defendant who is convicted could be sentenced to up to 25 years of imprisonment for acting or claiming to act in an official capacity under the United States and granting or issuing a passport without lawful authority. A consular officer with authority to grant or issue passports could also be convicted for knowingly and willfully issuing or verifying a passport for anyone not owing allegiance to the United States. The 25 year sentence applies only if the offense was committed in order to facilitate an act of international terrorism. If the offense was to commit a drug trafficking crime, the maximum penalty is 20-years. If the offense wasn’t committed for either of these purposes, the penalty is 15 years for repeat offenders and 10 years for first-time offenders.
- 18 U.S. Code section 1542: False statement in application and use of passport: A defendant can be convicted under this statute for knowingly and willfully making a false statement in an application for a passport with the intent to secure the passport for his own use or someone else’s use in a way that is contrary to the laws regulating the issuance of the passport. A defendant can also be convicted for willfully and knowingly using, attempting to using, or providing for someone else to use a passport that was secured due to false statements. The penalties for violating this statute could include 25 years imprisonment if the violation was committed to facilitate international terrorism; 20 years if it was to facilitate a drug crime; and 10 or 15 years in other situations depending whether the offense was a first offense or a repeat offense.
- 18 U.S. Code section 1543: Forgery or false use of passport: This statute makes it a crime to falsely make, counterfeit, forge, mutilate, or alter a passport or to knowingly use a passport that has been forged or altered. The penalties are the same 25 years, 20 years, 15 years, or 10 years as applicable to other statutes depending upon the purpose of the forgery or false passport use.
- 18 U.S. Code section 1544: Misuse of passport: Knowingly and willfully using or attempting to use someone else’s passport is illegal under this statute, as is knowingly and willfully giving your passport to someone else to use or attempting to use a passport in a way that violates restrictions. Penalties also include 25 years, 20 years, 15 years, or 10 years imprisonment if the crime is committed to facilitate terrorism, facilitate drug crimes, or is a first or second offense.
- 18 U.S. Code section 1545: Safe conduct violation: Under this statute, violating safe conduct requirements of U.S. passports could result in a fine and up to 10 years imprisonment.
- 18 U.S. Code section 1546: Fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents: Knowingly counterfeiting, forging, altering, or falsely making visas, permits, or other related documents is unlawful, as it possessing or attempting to use such documents. Using false names to try to obtain visas, permits or other documents or swearing to false statements under oath in connection with such documents can also result in conviction. Penalties are the same as for other statutes in this chapter.
- 18 U.S. Code section 1547: Alternative imprisonment maximum for certain offenses: Under this statute, the maximum term of imprisonment that could be imposed for committing other offenses involving passports not specified elsewhere in order to facilitate a drug crime is 15 years and for committing offenses in order to facilitate an act of terrorism is 20 years.
LV Criminal Defense can help you to understand each of the different elements of these statutes so you can make fully informed choices regarding how to defend yourself against the specific crime you’ve been accused of committing.
Getting help from a Federal Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been accused of wrongdoing in connection with passports and visas, LV Criminal Defense can provide the help and support you need. Our experienced legal team has worked closely with defendants accused of violating many different laws within 18 U.S. Code Chapter 75. We have represented clients in California, Arizona, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, or surrounding areas and have provided the help and support necessary to navigate the criminal justice system in the best and most effective way possible.
We can provide assistance with the negotiation of a plea agreement, with fighting charges in court, or with trying to get charges dropped. Whatever your situation, we will work closely with you to help ensure you get the best outcome possible in a difficult situation. Just give us a call to find out how we can help.