First-Time Alien Smuggling Charges.

Police are making large numbers of alien smuggling arrests along the border. In fact, transporting aliens is the most common type of alien smuggling crime in Texas. This is because DPS and border patrol are aggressively patrolling routes used by human smugglers.

From there, police look for driving patterns that point to human smugglers. These patterns include:

  • erratic driving;
  • cars and trucks that are riding low;
  • cars driving in tandem;
  • vehicles that do not fit the area;
  • driving on roads that are close to the border; and
  • driving at unusual times of the day.

Once police have a reason to stop the car, then they will quickly discover evidence of human smuggling. For example, they will see people laying down in the cargo area of the car. They may also see people dressed like they have been walking in the brush for a few days.

The end result is that police will arrest the driver for an alien smuggling charge. But what happens next? In other words, how you get out of jail after police arrest you for human smuggling? The answer will depends on whether you are facing state or federal charges.

Bail Bonds for Smuggling of Persons in Texas.

If police arrest someone you love for Smuggling of Persons in Texas, then the most common way to get them out of jail is to post a bail bond. This is because Texas law requires a judge to set a bond within 48 hours after police arrest a person for a crime. The main point is that once the judge sets the bond, then you can bail your loved one out of jail. But there are a few issues to look out for.

1. The bond is too high.

First, sometimes the judge sets a bond that is too high. If this happens, then your attorney can file a request to lower your bond amount. However, the downside is that this request takes time. It could be weeks before a judge decides what to do about your bond. In the mean time you will have to wait in jail.

2. The bond is still too high after a judge lowers it.

Another problem that comes up is that even when a judge lowers the original bond amount, the person still cannot pay the bond fees. If this happens, then you can request a PR bond if there is a delay in your case. Stated differently, if the State is not ready to move forward after 90 days from the date of your arrest, then you can ask for another bond reduction or a PR bond.

3. The arrested person is not a U.S. Citizen.

If police arrest someone who does not have permission to be in the country, then a new problem comes up. In these types of cases, ICE will put an immigration hold on the person. This means if you post the bond, the person will not get out of jail.

Instead, ICE will pick them up from the local jail and take them into custody. This is usually the start of formal deportation proceedings. If this happens in your case, then do not post bail until you talk to a qualified immigration attorney. Otherwise, you may be throwing money away by posting a bond.

Federal Bail hearings and Alien Smuggling Bonds.

Federal bail hearings are more formal than state bond hearings. This is because 18 USC § 3142 lays out the rules judges must follow when they make bail decisions in all criminal cases. On top of that, the type of crime police arrest a person for matters. For instance, different rules apply to major drug crimes. For that reason, our post will focus on how bond hearings in alien smuggling cases work in federal court.

What are Preliminary and Detention Hearings?

The first thing that happens after an alien smuggling arrest in federal court is that a judge schedules preliminary and detention hearings. Lawyers call these “P&Ds.” The key point is that P&Ds are two different hearings that often happen at the same time. A careful look at each of these hearings will show how they work.

What happens at a preliminary hearing after a human smuggling arrest in federal court?

A preliminary hearing is an informal mini trial that happens early in the case. But the rules of evidence do not apply. And the judge only decides if there is probable cause that the person committed a crime.

As a result, prosecutors will call a case agent to testify at the hearing. The agent will usually tell the judge the basic facts of the arrest. For instance, he will testify that police made a traffic stop on a rural highway near the border. After the stop, police saw immigrants in the car.

The next part of the agent’s testimony is how the government ties the defendant to the crime. At this point, the agent will tell the judge the defendant was the driver. Or the defendant was a passenger in the car helping the driver smuggle people.

Once the government finishes offering up its proof, the defense gets a chance to push back. There are different ways to do this. But the main point is for the defense to challenge how police tie the defendant to the crime.

If the judge finds there is probable cause that the person committed the crime, then the case will continue to move forward. If the judge finds there is no probable cause the defendant committed the crime, then the judge will drop the case. Further, courts usually set the preliminary hearing on the same date and time as the bond hearing.

What happens at a federal detention hearing?

In detention hearings, judges ask three key questions before they decide if a person should get out of jail on a bond. They are:

  1. Will the person show up to his future court dates?;
  2. Will he be a danger to the community while he is out on bond; and
  3. What bond conditions will make sure the person doesn’t jump bail or harm the community?

The answers to these questions will determine if a judge grants a bond or not. But there are also a lot of moving parts in a federal bail hearing. And each one of these parts will play a role in the bond hearing.

What factors will a judge consider when he decides if a person should get bail in a federal case?

Judges consider the following factors in bond hearings. They are the:

  • type of crime the person is arrested for;
  • strength of the evidence against the person;
  • history of the defendant including:
    • his character
    • work history
    • family ties
    • criminal history
    • financial resources
    • past history of drug or alcohol abuse
    • whether he failed to appear for court on prior cases
    • if he was on bond for another case when got arrested for human smuggling
    • If he was on parole when he got arrested for the new crime.

In other words, the judge looks at the entire picture when he makes a bond decision. As an aside, the list above also explains a paradox in criminal cases.

To explain, in alien smuggling cases, there are often two or more people working together. After police arrest all of them, some of them get out on bail while others don’t. This usually happens because something in the list above bothers the judge. As a result, the judge denies bond for one person but grants a bond for the others.

What is a pretrial services officer?

The U.S. Pretrial Services officer is a key player in bail hearings. They gather information on the defendant and prepare a bond report. The judge then relies on this report to make the bond decision. The officers also do two important things before the bond hearing.

First, they interview the defendant and his family to figure out where the defendant will live while he is on bond. The officer wants to make sure the defendant has a place to live and that the place is stable and safe. So that means family members should give the officer an address where the defendant can stay if he gets a bond.

Second, the officer interviews people to see if they meet the requirements to serve as a third party custodian. A third party custodian means an adult in the room who will watch over the defendant while he is on bond. It should be someone a judge can trust to make the right calls.

This means the custodian should have the following qualifications:

  • must be a US Citizen or Resident;
  • should have a job or own property; and
  • must not have pending criminal charges or be on probation for a crime.

Further, if a person agrees to supervise the defendant while out on bond, then the custodian must report violations to the court. The custodian will also help make sure the defendant shows up to his court dates.

But there is a kicker. In many cases, the custodian may have to sign an unsecured bond for the defendant. To illustrate, judges often set unsecured bonds for $20,000.00 in first-time alien smuggling cases. As a result, the custodian does not have to pay any money up front. However, if the defendant jumps bail, the custodian may be on the hook for $20,000.00.

How do I get an alien smuggling bond after an 8 USC § 1324 arrest?

The keys to bail hearings for alien smuggling cases are stability and responsibility. Show the judge that you have a stable background and that you will act responsibly while you are on bond. You can do this in two different ways.

You can call the custodian to testify on your behalf. The custodian should know you well. From there the custodian can tell the judge about your background. Most importantly, the custodian can use objective facts to show the judge why the defendant will do well while out on bond.

Another way to do this is by proffer. In other words, you can offer the judge documents that show the defendant is stable and responsible. Examples of documents that are helpful include:

  • pay stubs showing a strong history of work;
  • mortgage documents showing the person has strong ties to the community;
  • certificates or awards showing the person volunteers or is involved in the community;
  • SSI records showing you have limited income or health issues that make you less likely to be a danger to the community.

But be careful. The rules allow for proffers. But some courts will not accept proffers without a witness. For that reason, you should always have a responsible witness ready to testify at a bond hearing.

What are the most common reasons judges deny bonds in 8 USC § 1324 cases?

Judges often deny bonds in 8 USC § 1324 cases because:

  1. the defendant is on probation or parole for another case;
  2. he or she does not have permission to be in the country;
  3. the person has a history of failing to appear (FTA) for other cases;
  4. he cannot find a custodian to watch after him while on bond; and
  5. he smuggled a minor or possessed a gun during the crime.

What should I expect if I get a bond for an 8 USC § 1324 crime?

The video above tells you what to expect if you get a bond for a federal crime. But the bottom line is you must follow all the rules and report to an officer. If you do not, then the judge may pull your bond. This means you will have to wait in jail until your case is over.

First time alien smuggling bonds.

The first thing to do if someone you love is arrested for a human smuggling charge is to figure out if it is a state or federal case. If it is a state case, then you can usually hire a bond company to get your loved one out of jail. But if it is a federal case, then you will need to show that the defendant will show up to court and not cause problems while he is out on bond.

Finally, bond hearings are a huge deal in criminal cases. This is because it is really hard to fight a case from the inside. For this reason, you want to get out on bail so that you can have your family and support system around you when you make the biggest decision in the case–should I fight the charge or work something out?

Attorney Genaro R. Cortez.

Phone: 210-733-7575.