Federal Import and Export Crimes

Federal Import and Export CrimesAnyone who deals or trades outside of the U.S. knows how complicated import and export laws are, even for the savviest business person. Some standard criminal charges associated with import and export violations are falsely classifying goods, importing or exporting goods without paying the appropriate fines, or smuggling goods into or out of the U.S.

If you or a loved one is under investigation or charged with import or export violations, it’s critical to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. These investigations are intricate and take months to resolve. The sooner you contact a lawyer, the more help they can be.

What Are Import and Export Crimes?

There are many different ways an individual can commit an import or export crime. The most common is to falsely classify the weight, measurement, value, or the amount of fines on an item. Another common offense is importing goods into the U.S. through written or spoken false statements. Falsely importing goods is always a crime, whether or not it results in paying fewer fines.

Hiding goods in a boundary line between the U.S. and any foreign country to avoid the customs process is a violation of the law. Similarly, concealing, repacking, hiding, or moving items in a warehouse to subvert customs officials can lead to criminal charges.

For example, an IRS employee commits a violation by allowing an importer to pay fewer fines when bringing goods into the country. Government employees who aid someone in illegally importing goods can receive criminal charges.

Import and export crimes are considered felonies under federal criminal laws.

Related Offenses

Similar offenses to import and export crime violations include:

  • Breaking into a carrier facility
  • Illegally exporting munitions
  • Fraud
  • Smuggling gold

A prosecutor can bring these charges in addition to or in place of an import and export crime.

What Agencies Investigate Import and Export Crimes?

Many different agencies in the U.S. government can investigate crimes related to import and export violations. The Department of Homeland Security, ICE, the U.S. Postal Service, the FBI, the CIA, the IRS, or Customs and Border Protection can all conduct investigations. In most cases, multiple agencies work together to monitor and prosecute import and export violations.

Import and Export Crime Punishments

Import and export crimes are taken very seriously by law enforcement, and punishments are severe. Most carry penalties of at least one year in prison. However, most who are convicted receive much longer prison sentences. Penalties are determined by the severity of the act and whether the individual broke import or export laws. A prosecutor may also bring civil charges against the individual. These charges could be in place of a prison sentence or in addition to incarceration.

If you’re convicted of an import and export crime, you’ll most likely be a felon, which can ruin your business and reputation and prevent you from reentering your line of work. If you aren’t a U.S. citizen and you’re convicted, you may be disqualified for citizenship or be deported. Import and export fees are substantial, which may force you to declare bankruptcy.

Defenses to Federal Import and Export Crime Violations

There are many defenses a criminal defense attorney can use when fighting import and export criminal charges. A common one is that the individual did not commit any crime. As simple as it may sound, it involves a thorough investigation. Many calls and interviews are conducted with customs officials. Prohibitions, tariffs, and dues change over time, which may have resulted in an agent mistakenly thinking you paid too little. Both of these factors may result in a false charge of import and export crime violations.

If the first defense fails, an attorney will try to prove you did not knowingly violate laws associated with import and export crime. Importing and exporting goods is a long process with a lot of paperwork, and information can easily be lost or misplaced. Many violations can be traced to an unintentional clerical error. If the attorney can prove you accidentally made a mistake, this would be a valid defense against import and export charges.

Contact a Federal Import and Export Crimes Lawyer in Central Florida

If you or a loved one faces charges of or are under investigation for committing an import or export crime, you must reach out to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. These charges may result in severe punishment even for first-time offenders.

Here at The Umansky Law Firm, we provide compassionate and knowledgeable legal counsel for those facing criminal charges in Orlando and nearby cities. Our lawyers have over 100 years of combined experience. We firmly believe that everyone deserves a second chance, and we will fight for your second chance. Call us today at (407) 228-3838 or complete our online contact form to schedule your free consultation.