Texas Continuous Smuggling of Person

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 What Is the Smuggling of Persons Charge in Texas?

A “smuggling of persons” charge in Texas is primarily defined under the Texas Penal Code, Section 20.05. In general, it involves a person who knowingly uses any manner of transportation or harbor to facilitate the unlawful staying or entry of an individual in the U.S. while intending to obtain some form of pecuniary benefit. It includes activities such as transporting or moving persons within or across state lines or facilitating or aiding the person’s escape.

  • Crossing state lines: For example, if a person is brought illegally into the country from Mexico, and the individual facilitating this illegal entry then transports the person from Texas to Oklahoma, this act of moving an unlawfully present individual across state lines would fall under smuggling of persons.
    • Similarly, if a person smuggles an individual from California to Texas, knowing that the individual does not have legal status, this also would constitute smuggling of persons under Texas law.
  • Aiding a person’s escape: This would apply in situations where an individual knowingly helps an unlawfully present person avoid detection by law enforcement or immigration authorities.
    • For example, if an individual was aware that the authorities were searching for a person due to their illegal status, and they provided this person with a place to hide or assist them in fleeing the area to avoid being caught, this could be considered smuggling of persons.

In both situations, the act must be done with the intent of gaining some form of pecuniary benefit, which can range from direct financial payment to indirect benefits, such as labor or services.

The act of smuggling doesn’t necessarily have to involve physically moving a person—it could also include providing false documentation or advising the individual on how to avoid detection by the authorities.

Providing False Documentation

This involves supplying individuals who are not legally present in the country with fraudulent identification or documentation that allows them to avoid detection or misrepresent their legal status.

For instance, creating or providing false social security cards, passports, visas, or other identification documents would fall into this category. It also extends to counterfeit employment documents, as these are commonly used to obtain work and maintain a livelihood while avoiding law enforcement and immigration officials.

Advising on Avoiding Detection

This aspect includes advising or helping individuals evade law enforcement agencies or immigration officials.

Tactics could involve:

  • Providing information on when and where immigration raids or checks are likely to occur,
  • Recommending routes or methods for moving around the country undetected, or
  • Offering advice on how to avoid suspicion or scrutiny when dealing with authorities.

For example, this could mean teaching individuals how to behave or what to say if stopped by police, advising them to avoid certain areas known for high law enforcement presence. It could also mean guiding them to employment opportunities where employers are less likely to check immigration status.

What Is Continuous Smuggling of Persons in Texas?

“Continuous Smuggling of Persons” in Texas is a more severe offense. This is defined under Texas Penal Code, Section 20.06, as conducting smuggling of persons activities more than once over a period of 10 days or more. It requires the person to have been engaged in smuggling activities on a more persistent basis.

Let’s say a person named John is involved in a smuggling operation. Over the span of two weeks, he helps transport five different individuals who are not legally present in the U.S. across the Texas border into the state. He does this in exchange for monetary compensation.

In this scenario, John is not just participating in a single instance of smuggling; instead, he’s engaged in multiple acts of continuous trafficking of persons over a ten-day period. As such, this pattern of behavior would fall under “Continuous Smuggling of Persons” according to Texas Penal Code, Section 20.06.

If caught and convicted, John would be facing a more severe penalty than if he had only been involved in a single smuggling event.

What Is the Punishment for Continuous Smuggling of Individuals in Texas?

The punishment for Continuous Smuggling of Individuals in Texas is quite severe. If found guilty, this is considered a felony of the first degree. The punishment can range from 5 to 99 years or life imprisonment and may also include a fine of up to $10,000.

In terms of immigration law consequences, the individual who is convicted of this crime might face deportation proceedings if they are not a U.S. citizen. Additionally, the individual being smuggled, if found unlawfully in the U.S., may also face immigration consequences, including possible deportation.

Is There a Minimum Prison Time With a Continuous Smuggling of Persons Sentence?

The minimum prison time for a Continuous Smuggling of Persons sentence in Texas is typically 5 years due to the nature of the charge as a first-degree felony. However, if the smuggling resulted in serious bodily harm, death, or sexual assault, the punishment can increase significantly, potentially leading to a mandatory life sentence.

Consider the following scenario:

John, as in our previous example, is involved in a continuous smuggling operation. Over a span of two weeks, he helps transport several individuals who are not legally present in the U.S. across the Texas border. For his services, he receives financial compensation. However, on one occasion, the circumstances take a turn for the worse.

On this occasion, John is smuggling a group of individuals in a concealed compartment of a cargo truck. The conditions inside the compartment are dire: it’s extremely hot, there’s limited ventilation, and there’s barely enough room for the group to move. John is aware of these conditions but disregards the risk, prioritizing his financial gain.

During the journey, one of the individuals in the compartment, a young woman named Maria, suffers severe heat stroke due to the unbearable conditions. Despite the others in the group pleading for help via a small communication device, John decides not to stop the truck, fearing he might get caught if he draws attention to the vehicle.

By the time the group is finally released from the compartment, Maria’s condition has worsened drastically. She is rushed to a hospital, but unfortunately, she doesn’t survive.

In this scenario, John’s actions directly resulted in serious bodily harm and, ultimately, death. He consciously disregarded the risk of harm or death due to the smuggling conditions, choosing instead to continue with his operation to protect his personal interests.

Under Texas law, because the smuggling operation led to death, the charges against John would likely be elevated significantly. This isn’t merely continuous smuggling anymore; the consequence of his actions led to a loss of life. Therefore, upon conviction, John could be facing a mandatory life sentence.

Can a Lawyer Help Me with My Case?

A Texas criminal lawyer can be of massive help in such cases. An experienced attorney can evaluate the case, challenge the evidence, explore potential defenses, negotiate plea agreements, and represent you throughout court proceedings.

If you or someone you know is facing these serious charges, consider using LegalMatch, which connects you with an attorney who practices criminal law in Texas. Consult with a professional who understands the specific nuances of Texas law and can advocate for your best interests.


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