Let a Federal Naturalization Lawyer Defend You
You’ve probably seen it in the movies: someone on the run needs to escape the country quickly and meets with a shadowy character to obtain an illegal passport. But this doesn’t just happen on screen. It occurs in real life, and some people fraudulently use naturalization and/or passport documents to enter or remain in the United States illegally.
When someone is charged with one of these types of crimes, they must consider whether they will need to hire a naturalization attorney.
Let the Zoukis Consulting Group help you with questions concerning the acquiring or trafficking of illegal naturalization or passport documents, as well as what legal ramifications there are for someone charged with any of these offenses.
What Is Trafficking or Fraudulently Acquiring Naturalization or Passport Documents?
Trafficking is the term for dealing or trading illegal objects. Fraudulently acquiring is, by definition, possessing an illegal object. In this case, someone is either in possession of or trading documents that allow a foreign-born person to illegally come into or stay in the U.S.
These could be fake birth certificates, driver’s licenses, ID cards, green cards, or marriage licenses. They could also be photographs or the passports themselves.
Criminal defense firms often have naturalization lawyers who thoroughly understand and deal with cases of this nature.
What Can Law Enforcement Charge You With?
Several types of crimes are listed under the federal statutes governing naturalization and passport deceit.
They include making a false statement to obtain a passport or citizenship paperwork, using stolen or forged documents, or pretending to marry someone to help them dodge immigration officials.
The United States Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) often investigates crimes of this nature. DSS is the law enforcement agency under the U.S. State Department and is charged with “protecting the integrity of U.S. travel documents.” This agency has offices in 29 U.S. cities and more than 270 foreign locations and regularly works with international law groups, such as Interpol.
Crimes relating to naturalization and passport fraud come with jail time, fines, and the threat of deportation. All punishments depend on the seriousness of the offense in question. The most severe cases–usually involving terrorism, human trafficking, or drug crimes–need an experienced naturalization attorney.
What Are the Possible Penalties?
According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission Guidelines, crimes relating to naturalization or passport documentation start at Level 11. This means it is on the lower end of the scale of felonies. For example, criminal trespassing is Level 4, while kidnapping is Level 32.
From there, law enforcement and the courts have the authority to add levels depending on severity. For example, the more sketchy the documents in someone’s possession, the higher the level. And if prosecutors believe the defendant had reason to understand the forged documents would be used to assist in committing another felony, the level will also go up accordingly.
First-time offenders are normally sentenced to between 8 and 14 months in jail. But time behind bars increases due to the seriousness of the offense. For example, a first-time offender with a fake U.S. passport is looking at 18 months to 2 years in prison.
The maximum sentence for a first- or second-time offender is 10 years.
Those sentences go up dramatically if the fraudulent passport was used to support international terrorism (25 years) or drug trafficking (20 years).
Passport fraud fines can be as high as $250,000.
In all likelihood, after someone convicted of naturalization or passport document crime serves their sentence, they will be sent back to the original country and forfeit the right to return.
A Naturalization Attorney Will Defend You in Court
The United States takes naturalization and passport-based crime seriously. Federal laws regulating the illegal possession or use of phony documents to acquire a passport or citizenship are complicated, and they come with hefty penalties.
If you are facing charges of trafficking or acquiring fraudulent documents of this sort, it is imperative to meet with an experienced naturalization lawyer from the Zoukis Consulting Group. You will need help as you progress through all the formal legal proceedings, and we will be there to defend your rights.
A naturalization attorney will argue your case and can help lower your fine and shorten your prison sentence. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.
Published Feb 15, 2022 by Christopher Zoukis, JD, MBA | Last Updated by Christopher Zoukis, JD, MBA on Feb 15, 2022 at 12:29 pm