Skip to Content
Hablamos Español 602-428-7104
Federal Alien Smuggling Defense

Federal Alien Smuggling Defense Attorneys in Phoenix

Fighting for Clients Across Arizona Charged Under 8 U.S.C. § 1324 

Arizona is a hot bed for immigration crimes, which is why federal law enforcement is constantly on the lookout for prosecutable offenses. And given its role in cracking down on illegal immigration, the feds are extremely keen on arresting and prosecuting people who harbor and smuggle illegal aliens.

If you have been charged with alien smuggling or another federal immigration-related crime, the time to act is now. Federal alien smuggling charges put life-altering penalties and prison time on the table and demand the attention of skilled and experienced attorneys.  

At MayesTelles, we have decades of experience fighting for clients charged with serious federal crimes and immigration offenses. We’re backed by a team of award-winning defense attorneys, former prosecutors, and former law enforcement who know what’s at stake in federal cases, and how to fight back against the federal government. If you or your loved one were recently charged and arrested anywhere in Arizona, we’re ready to help. 

Call (602) 428-7104 or contact us online 24/7 to request a FREE and confidential consultation.

What is Federal Alien Smuggling?

Under federal law (8 U.S.C. § 1324), it’s a crime to bring in, transport, conceal, or harbor an immigrant when you know that person is an illegal “alien” or when you act in reckless disregard of their illegal immigration status. 

This offense is typically called “alien smuggling” and it was intended to prosecute the major players in illegal immigration rings, including “coyotes” who guide undocumented nationals across the U.S. border, drivers and assistants who transport illegal immigrants within the U.S., and the owners of safe houses who temporarily harbor illegal immigrants as they make their way to their destinations. 

However, the offense has components that can ensnare other people too. This includes the element of acting with the knowledge of or in reckless disregard to an alien’s illegal status and an element that also makes it illegal to “encourage or induce” an immigrant to enter or reside in the U.S.

These elements give the federal government broad authority to target more than just members of purported immigration rings and allows for charges to be brought against family members, employers, neighbors, or even those who give aid or humanitarian support to illegal immigrants. 

Penalties for Federal Alien Smuggling

Like other federal crimes, alien smuggling charges carry life-altering consequences and significant prison sentences. 

If you’ve been charged under 8 U.S.C. § 1324, you could face the following maximum penalties:

  • Brining in or attempting to bring an illegal immigrant into the U.S. in any manner outside of a designated port of entry: 10 years
  • Transporting, harboring, concealing, or encouraging an illegal alien within the U.S. (when done for financial gain): 10 years 
  • Transporting, harboring, concealing, or encouraging an illegal alien within the U.S. (when not done for financial gain): 5 years 
  • In cases involving serious injury or risk of death in commission of the crime: 20 years
  • In cases involving in the death of any person: death penalty or life in prison

The sentence ultimately handed down by a federal court will depend on the circumstances and the federal sentencing guidelines. However, because the federal government is notorious for severe sentences and harsh mandatory minimums, the potential for considerable time behind bars remains regardless of what your case involves. 

There are also aggravating factors that can elevate potential sentences, such as:

  • Crimes committed for financial gain (i.e. being paid by an illegal immigrant to bring them into the U.S., transport them, or house them)
  • Placing the life of an illegal immigrant at risk, such as by placing them into the trunk of a vehicle or other dangerous places
  • Threatening or coercing an illegal immigrant
  • Possessing, brandishing, or discharging a firearm
  • Illegal immigration for the purpose of prostitution
  • Children or multiple illegal aliens are involved
  • Prior convictions, including past immigration offenses and deportation

Given the serious penalties, anyone facing alien smuggling charges should immediately retain the counsel of a defense attorney who has experience with both federal criminal defense and immigration crimes, both of which are niche practices. At MayesTelles, our award-winning team is available 24/7 to help defendants and their families after they’ve been charged with serious federal immigration crimes. 

Defenses to Federal Alien Smuggling Charges

While the best way to identify a viable defense in your case is to have it evaluated personally by an attorney with experience handling these matters, there are some general strategies used in these matters to seek dismissals, reduced penalties, and more favorable sentences. Some examples include:

  • Challenging law enforcement’s reasonable suspicion and probable cause for stopping, investigating, and arresting you.
  • Challenging whether you had actual knowledge of an alien’s illegal immigration status or that you acted in reckless disregard of their illegal status. 
  • Challenging the testimony / depositions of material witnesses.
  • Challenging alleged conduct can result in sentencing enhancements (i.e. smuggling for profit, endangering the life of an alien, etc.).

Often, defenses against federal alien smuggling charges will focus on the “knowledge” element of the crime, as it can be difficult for the federal government to prove what a person knew about an alien’s illegal status or that someone can determine another’s immigration status based on their appearance. In some cases, it may also be possible for defendants to argue that they themselves were being smuggled or that, less commonly, the government cannot prove the aliens were illegal immigrants. 

Our attorneys at MayesTelles meticulously investigate clients’ cases to identify discrepancies in the government’s story and strategies for a viable defense. We are not afraid to take cases to trial, and we work diligently to explore meaningful ways for mitigating potential penalties. This may entail challenging alleged aggravating factors and sentencing enhancements, minimizing any criminal history issues, seeking participation in reduced sentencing programs, and employing other strategies to seek lower penalties and sentences.

Support for Related Immigration Crimes

Most foreign nationals arrested by law enforcement in Arizona are either returned to their country of origin or charged with misdemeanor illegal entry and sentenced to minimal terms of detention. Others, however, can face far more serious charges and penalties – particularly in cases where they are accused of harboring, smuggling, encouraging, or transporting illegal immigrants.

Our team MayesTelles has decades of collective experience representing clients facing serious federal crimes and immigration charges and is equipped with the insight to handle all types of cases related to alien smuggling. This includes:

  • Illegal entry and deportation defense
  • Illegal reentry (8 U.S.C. § 1326)
  • Illegal hiring
  • Marriage fraud
  • Sex trafficking

Call For a FREE Consultation: (602) 428-7104

Immigration crimes are time-sensitive matters that demand the immediate involvement of a defense attorney – especially if they are being prosecuted by the federal government.

If you or someone you love has been charged with federal alien smuggling anywhere in Arizona, our attorneys at MayesTelles are available to immediately discuss your rights and options. For a FREE and confidential consultation with one of our Phoenix alien smuggling defense attorneys, call (602) 428-7104 or contact us online today.

We've Won Thousands of Cases

  • Charges Reduced to Reckless Driving

    Client R.C. was stopped by Mesa Police for a civil traffic violation and later charged with DUI, Extreme DUI, and Super Extreme DUI in a justice court. During the course of their representation, MayesTelles attorneys discovered important inconsistencies in the police reports. When we presented these issues to the State, the prosecutor’s office agreed to drop all DUI charges.

  • Fatal Commercial Vehicle Accident

    MayesTelles Client A.F. and her husband tragically lost their unborn child as a result of the negligence of an individual operating a commercial vehicle in Yuma, Arizona. After substantial investigation including accident reconstruction and filing a lawsuit, the insurance company paid out the policy limits of $1,000,000.00.

  • 4 Counts of Aggravated DUI Dismissed

    Client M.W. was charged with 4 counts of Aggravated DUI in the Maricopa County Superior Court in July 2016 for allegedly riding a motorized bicycle under the influence. The attorneys at MayesTelles demanded that the State include certain materials in their presentation to the grand jury, resulting in the grand jury refusing to indict and the case being dismissed.

  • Client Charged with DUI

    Client, GS, charged with DUI - sentence was reduced to reckless driving.

  • Client Facing Assault Felony

    M.L. was charged with 1 count of Aggravated Assault, a class 3 dangerous felony. She plead guilty to Aggravated Assault, a class 6 undesignated felony, with a stipulation to 3 months of initial jail. She received credit for 32 days and the rest of the jail time was deferred. She was placed on 3 years of supervised probation. She has the opportunity to designate the offense a misdemeanor after successfully completing probation. Location: Maricopa County Superior Court

  • Client Charged with DUI

    Our client, A.R, was charged with 1 count of DUI and 1 count of Failure to Control Speed to Avoid a Collision. During extensive pre-trial investigation, it was discovered that the police made many errors in how they handled the case. We were able to get the client's charges reduced to reckless driving. Location: Glendale City Court

  • Client Charged with Four Felony Counts

    Our client, Ms. D., was charged with two counts of forgery - a class 4 Felony as well as theft - a class 2 Felony and also fraudulent schemes and artifices - a class 2 Felony. We were able to get her conviction reduced to a class 6 undesignated felony with the opportunity to reduce further to a misdemeanor. Location: Maricopa County Superior Court

  • Client Charged with Trespass & Assault

    Our client, T.C., was charged in Maricopa County Superior Court on July 8, 2015 with 1 count of Criminal Trespass, a class 6 felony, and 1 count Assault, a class 2 Misdemeanor. On September 9, 2015, after an 8-day jury trial, our client was found not guilty on both charges. Location: Maricopa County Superior Court

  • Client Charged with Shoplifting

    Our client, Ms. H., was charged with shoplifting - a class 1 misdemeanor. We were able to get her conviction set aside. Location: Phoenix Municipal Court

  • Client Faced 5 Felony Sex Offenses

    Our client, Mr. C., was charged with five counts of felony sex offenses, including two counts of Sex Conduct with a Minor and three counts of Molestation of a Child. We were able to get the case dismissed upon a successful Motion to Dismiss. Location: Maricopa County Superior Court

  • Client Charged with Disorderly Conduct

    Our client, K.F., was charged with Disorderly Conduct, a class 1 misdemeanor. We were able to get this client's case dismissed. Location: Tempe Municipal Court

  • Client Facing Multiple Criminal Charges

    Our client, L.S., was charged on October 20, 2014 in Mesa for an assault, disorderly conduct, and criminal damage. MayesTelles PLLC was able to get those charges dismissed.

  • Client Facing Multiple Domestic Violence Offenses

    Our client, Ms. C., was facing charges of assault / domestic violence (class 1 misdemeanor), disorderly conduct / domestic violence (class 1 misdemeanor), and criminal damage / domestic violence (class 1 misdemeanor). We were able to get our client's case dismissed. Location: Mesa Municipal Court

  • Charged with Assault & Failure to Appear

    Our client, L.S., was charged in Phoenix on December 27, 2014 for assault and failure to appear. After completing diversion, our client's case was dismissed.

  • Multiple Felony Theft Offenses

    Our client, Mr. C., was charged with Theft of Means of Transportation (Class 3 Felony) and Trafficking in Stolen Property (Class 3 Felony). Both class 3 felonies have a possible sentencing range of 2 - 8.75 years in prison. We were able to get our client's charge reduced to a Class 1 Misdemeanor with no jail time. Location: Maricopa County Superior Court

Why Choose MayesTelles PLLC?

  • Nearly 200 Years of Combined Experience
  • Thousands of Cases Successfully Handled
  • Voted Top 100 Trial Lawyers
  • Available to Our Clients 24/7
  • Former Prosecutors & Law Enforcement
  • AV Preeminent Rated Attorneys

Contact Us Today

Start with a Free Case Evaluation
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.
  • By submitting, you agree to be contacted about your request & other information using automated technology. Message frequency varies. Msg & data rates may apply. Text STOP to cancel. Acceptable Use Policy


Hear From Past Clients We've Helped
    "I would recommend them 1,000%"
    The entire staff was so kind and nobody treated me any different because of my past! There are no words I can give you to thank you for what your company has done for me!! Thank you so much!
    - K.H.
    "Only Pick MayesTelles"
    I sure hope to never get in trouble again but when I did I put my money and trust in MayesTelles. Not only do they listen, they CARE! As if it was them in my shoes! They don't judge you or make you feel uncomfortable and you can sit back and relax.
    - L. M.
    "Put My Mind at Ease"
    I never thought I would be someone needing a criminal lawyer. Choosing Mayes Telles was a great choice which has put my mind at ease. Melanie Laboy has been super responsive to my case and kept me informed during this entire process.
    - E.W.
    "I had a great experience and would definitely recommend David Lish."
    Got myself in some trouble and David Lish pulled me right out. He was really good at making me feel comfortable and helping me understand exactly what was going on with my case. David made my Felony go down to a misdemeanor and allowed me to come home to N
    - Elizabeth
    "Zach Thornley the greatest criminal lawyer at Mayes Telles"
    Zach turned hell to heaven (not guilty) for me and I will never say enough thank you for the fantastic job he did!!!!! Zach thank you
    - SG
    "The Best Lawyer in My Experience"
    David Telles is the best lawyer in my experience. It was a pretty big case, but he handled very professionally. My case was dismissed, I was very happy with the result and I am really thanks to David Telles.
    - Hanna
    "Professional, fair, and successful results for our clients."
    We are often asked what law firm do we see offers excellent advice and successful results for our clients and we tell them Mayes Telles. Blake Mayes, David Telles and Dean Turnbow have had fantastic communication with our office and our clients can't speak
    - Sanctuary Bail Bonds
    "Professional, fair, and successful results for our clients."
    We are often asked what law firm do we see offers excellent advice and successful results for our clients and we tell them Mayes Telles. Blake Mayes, David Telles and Dean Turnbow have had fantastic communication with our office...
    - Sanctuary Bail Bonds