First-time federal alien smuggling cases in Del Rio, Texas.

Police in the Del Rio, Texas sector make 1000s of first-time federal alien smuggling arrests each year. And many of the people police arrest have little or no criminal history. To add to that, these defendants have little or no connection to the border.

This creates a perfect storm for anyone facing an 8 USC § 1324 charge in Del Rio, Texas–the person is far away from home, unfamiliar with the system, and staring at heavy federal charges. Most important of all, they have the following questions about their case:

  • What is an 8 USC § 1324 crime?
  • Can I get bail for this crime?
  • How do I phone home?
  • How much time am I looking at for this type of case? and
  • What should I expect in my case?

Consequently, this post will answer these questions. We will also give you a roadmap of what to expect if police arrest you for a first-time federal alien smuggling case in Del Rio, Texas.

What is an 8 USC § 1324 crime?

8 USC § 1324 is the federal law that bans human smuggling. In fact, 8 USC § 1324 creates six different crimes. Namely, this law makes it a crime to:

  1. Bring noncitizens into the United States;
  2. Drive or transport noncitizens within the country;
  3. Harbor or hide aliens;
  4. Encourage aliens to enter the country;
  5. Conspire with other people to break these laws; and
  6. Aid or Abet others to commit these crimes.

Each one of these ways to break the law is a separate crime. This is because there are different ways to commit an alien smuggling crime. And together, these crimes make up the alien-smuggling law known as 8 USC § 1324.

As an aside, this law is different from the state crime of Smuggling of Persons in Texas. Worse yet, this state law creates confusion. This is because it is not always clear early after the arrest if police are filing federal or state human smuggling charges.

So you first need to figure out if police arrested you or your loved one for a state or federal charge. This will also make a big difference in what you should expect in your case. Moreover, the information in this post only applies to the federal crime and not the state crime of human smuggling.

Finally, the key feature of 8 USC § 1324 is the immigration status of the migrants. The prosecutor must show the migrant does not have status to be in the country. That is to say, the migrant must be undocumented. And the defendant must act with criminal intent to smuggle the undocumented migrant.

Why am I being charged with an 8 USC § 1324 crime if I did not bring the migrant into the country? I only drove them from the border.

The short answer is because there are several ways to break the 8 USC § 1324 law. One way is to drive or transport undocumented migrants after they entered the country. This is the most common way police arrest suspected smugglers in the Del Rio area.

To illustrate, police will make a traffic stop on a farm road, ranch road, or on Highway 90 near the border. When police approach the car, they find migrants hiding in the car or truck. Or the driver and migrants give police different stories about where they are coming from and where they are going. This leads police to arrest the driver and helpers for transporting aliens.

But another way to break the 8 USC § 1324 law is to bring them into the country without government permission. In the Del Rio sector, this usually means the defendant brought an undocumented migrant from Mexico and into the United States. One way to do this is to use birth certificates that belong to a minor or toddler born in the country and tell a border patrol agent they belong to a minor or toddler who is an undocumented migrant. This is the crime of bringing an alien into the country.

In sum, transporting aliens and bringing aliens into the country are two different ways to break the 8 USC § 1324 law.

What are the penalties for federal alien smuggling in Del Rio, Texas Federal Court?

Law.Description.Jail Time.Fine.
8 USC 1324(a)(1)(B)(ii)Alien Smuggling without financial gain.0-5 years.$0-$250,000.00.
8 USC 1324(a)(1)(B)(i)Alien Smuggling for financial gain.0-10 years.$0-$250,000.00.
8 USC 1324(a)(1)(B)(iii)The defendant causes serious bodily injury.0-20 years.$0-$250,000.00.
8 USC 1324(a)(1)(B)(iv)The crime results in death.Death penalty or life in jail.$0-$250,000.00.
8 USC 1324(a)(2)(B)(ii)Bringing an alien to the country for financial gain.3-10 years in jail.$0-$250,000.00.

Bail Hearings for federal human smuggling crimes in Del Rio, Texas.

In many cases, the bail and detention hearing in Del Rio, Texas Federal Court is the biggest event in a human smuggling case. If the judge grants you bail after a human smuggling arrest, then you can fight your case from the outside.

That is to say, you can decide if you want a jury trial or to plead guilty from home with the help of your family support system. Similarly, if you decide to plead guilty, then you can wait for your sentencing date from home. This will help lower your stress level and allow you to focus on the big picture as you consider your options.

This last point is crucial. One of the quirks of federal human-smuggling crimes in Del Rio, Texas is huge backlog of cases in the system. This often lead to major time gaps between the plea hearing and the sentencing hearing. In plain English, it takes too long to get sentenced in Del Rio, Texas. And for many defendants, this is the worst part of the case.

How do I get bail granted in Del Rio, Texas Federal court if I am arrested for alien smuggling?

The bail decision rests entirely with the federal judge handling your bond hearing. And no lawyer can predict what the court will do in your case. This is because the facts of each case and the background of each defendant vary widely from case to case.

Nevertheless, to get bail in federal court for human smuggling, you must show that: (1) you are not a flight risk; and (2) you will not be a danger to the community while you are on bond. With this in mind, the factors below (if they apply to your case) are things you and your lawyer can use to help you get bail:

  • You have no prior criminal history;
  • You are a U.S. Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident;
  • No evidence that you use drugs or abuse alcohol;
  • You have a stable job and a place to live;
  • You are not out on bond or on parole for another crime; and
  • If you had probation before, then proof that you completed probation and followed the rules.

In short, you can get bail in Del Rio Federal Court. But you must be ready to show that you will show up for future court dates, follow the rules, and not commit new crimes while out on bond.

What happens after the bail hearing?

The next step after the bail hearing is usually the indictment. The Grand Jury will hand it down usually within 30 days from the date police arrest you. This is the formal charge that tells you what law you broke. And you can use it to decide what defenses to raise.

From there, the court will set your case for docket call. At the docket call, you and your attorney should be ready to “announce.” This means you should be ready to tell the judge if you want to fight your case or work something out.

If you want to fight your case, then the court will set your case for a jury trial. These are “hard” settings. In other words, once you commit to a jury trial, then you will likely not be able to change your plea at trial. If you want to plead out, then the judge will set your case for a plea hearing.

What happens if a jury finds me guilty or if I plead guilty to the crime?

The court will reset your case for a sentencing hearing. And the court will order the probation department to write a report in your case. This report will describe the facts of your case and give the judge background information on you and your family.

The report will also contain your criminal history. It will lists all your arrests and convictions. Plus, the probation officer will use this information to suggest a guideline range. This guideline range is important. It will tell you how much jail time you will get in your case.

In addition, your lawyer will review this information with you before your sentencing date. And together, both of you can prepare a plan to ask the court for the lowest jail-time possible.

Video: How do I figure out my sentencing guidelines for a federal alien smuggling crime?

The YouTube video above shows you how the sentencing guidelines work.

How do I phone home after an alien smuggling arrest in Del Rio, Texas?

Most likely, police will take a person arrested for an 8 USC § 1324 crime to the Val Verde Detention Center. The Detention Center phone number is 830-778-0096. The address is 253 FM 2523 Hamilton Lane, Del Rio, Texas 78840.

More to the point, you will need to add money to your loved one’s jail account so they can make phone calls and buy basic needs while in jail. Further, ask your loved one to put you on the visitation list with the jail so you can visit with them.

Del Rio Federal Alien Smuggling Lawyer.

Genaro R. Cortez is a federal lawyer who handles state and federal human smuggling crimes in South Texas. He offers free case consults for alien smuggling crimes in Del Rio, Texas.

Call Today for a Case Evaluation. 210-733-7575.