Federal Criminal Lawyer Explains Contraband Tobacco

There are strict regulations on cigarettes and tobacco within the United States. If you violate those rules and regulations, you could face charges on the state or federal level.

While the rules govern many different types of conduct related to transporting and selling tobacco, some of the strictest federal laws relate to trafficking in contraband cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.

If you are facing federal criminal charges for trafficking in contraband cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, you could be sentenced to jail time and could face fines if convicted. If you live in California, Arizona, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, or surrounding areas, LV Criminal Defense can help you to develop a defense strategy aimed at reducing or avoiding these serious penalties.

Our legal team knows the ins-and-outs of the federal laws applicable to trafficking in contraband tobacco and we can put our knowledge to work to help you understand your rights and protect your future as you respond to allegations.

You should give us a call as soon as you are under investigation or are accused so we can begin working on your defense.

Federal Laws On Contraband Cigarettes and Smokeless Tobacco

If you are accused of a federal crime related to trafficking in contraband cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, the laws that you will be prosecuted under are found in 18 U.S. Code Chapter 114. Within 18 U.S. Code Chapter 114, there are six different statutes including the following:

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  • 18 U.S. Code section 2341 – Definitions. This statute defines the words used within all of the statutes found in 18 U.S. Code Chapter 114. According to the relevant statute, cigarette includes a roll of tobacco wrapped in paper or any substance. Contraband cigarettes refers to a quantity of more than 10,000 cigarettes in the possession of certain people or companies such as common carriers or persons with a license to sell cigarettes without proof that state and local taxes have been paid on the cigarettes.
    • 18 U.S. Code section 2342 – Unlawful acts. This statute makes it a criminal offense to knowingly ship, transport, or receive contraband cigarettes or smokeless tobacco. It’s also unlawful under this statute to knowingly make false statements regarding cigarettes or smokeless tobacco when preparing records required by this chapter.
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2343 – Recordkeeping, reporting, and inspection. This statute imposes record keeping and reporting requirements on any person who sells, ships, or distributes quantities of cigarettes in excess of 10,000 and quantities of smokeless tobacco in excess of 500 single-unit consumer sized cans or packages. The statute specifies the specific information that must be obtained in the records as well as requirements for how long the records need to be kept.
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2344 – Penalties. This statute specifies that a knowing violation of the provisions of 18 U.S. Code Chapter 114 can result in a maximum period of five years of imprisonment as well as a fine. Contraband cigarettes and smokeless tobacco can also be subject to forfeiture. The forfeited assets will either be destroyed and not resold or will be used for undercover investigative operations. The assets will not be resold when they are seized, according to 18 U.S. Code section 2344.
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2345 – Effect on State and local law. Effect on State and local law: This statute makes clear that none of the provisions of 18 U.S. Code Chapter 114 should be construed to effect the enforcement of local law. Localities throughout the United States are free to impose their own taxes on cigarettes and to enforce those laws in a manner they believe is appropriate, including with seizure of tobacco products when  laws are violated.
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2346 – Enforcement and regulations. This statute explains how the provisions of 18 U.S. Code Chapter 114 are to be enforced.

It is important for any defendant who has been accused of trafficking in cigarettes or smokeless tobacco to understand what the definition of contraband cigarettes is, what the record keeping requirements are that must be complied with, and what prosecutors actually must prove in order for a defendant to be convicted of an offense.

Prosecutors have the burden of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a defendant engaged in unlawfully trafficking in contraband cigarettes and smokeless tobacco in order for a defendant to be convicted under the statutes in 18 U.S. Code Chapter 114.

If a prosecutor is not able to prove any individual element of the offense, then the defendant would be acquitted of the charges because the U.S. Constitution guarantees that every person must be treated as innocent until proven guilty.

Developing the right response to charges requires an understanding of the statute that an experienced attorney can bring to your case. LV Criminal Defense knows the laws in Chapter 114 related to trafficking in contraband cigarettes and smokeless tobacco and can provide personalized help in determining whether prosecutors will be able to prove the necessary elements of your criminal case.

Getting Help from a Federal Criminal Defense Attorney

A federal criminal defense lawyer at LV Criminal Defense can provide you with assertive, informed representation when you are facing charges for trafficking in contraband cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. Our dedicated and experienced legal defense team will work closely with you to ensure that you have chosen the best response to charges so you can work to avoid conviction and fight for your future.

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When I initially met with Mr. Wooldridge, he took the opportunity to sit and go over my problem with me. He described details in my case which he found disturbing and explained why he I should have him on my side.

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Depending upon the circumstances, you may wish to negotiate a plea deal or fight for acquittal. We will help you to decide which approach is best and will work to carry out your planned response to charges so you can get the best possible outcome after accusations that you trafficked in contraband cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. To find out more about how our firm can help you to respond to charges, give us a call today.