In the US, there is a federal division that helps protect the borders of the country. Customs and Border Protection agents are tasked with preventing illegal goods and people from crossing the border. Not all illegal goods are dangerous. Some are banned because of trade relationships with their countries of origin. Similarly, not all people who enter the country illegally are dangerous. But customs officials are trained to treat these offenses as serious even if they pose no real threat to the public.
If you are accused of a customs offense, it’s important to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. The United States has strict regulations regarding the cargo that can be transported. If you do not adhere to these regulations when transporting materials, you might be charged with a customs violation. Even if the federal government just thinks you might have violated customs, you can be charged.
This is especially nerve-wracking because customs regulations are complicated. They govern every aspect of the materials you can import and export in the US, but they’re so complex that many people spend their entire law careers on them. It’s easy for a misunderstanding to spiral out of control because you simply didn’t fill out the right form or check the right box.
There are several different types of charge that might be brought against you. Some of the crimes you might be accused of include:
Since customs regulations are federal laws, they apply everywhere in the US. They will be prosecuted by federal law enforcement, so it’s important to have a lawyer who is familiar with federal court proceedings. These laws apply no matter whether you or the affected materials enter the country through boat, plane, vehicle, or other method of transportation.
Sometimes customs violations will result in civil penalties instead of criminal ones. In these cases, you can expect to need to pay a fine. There may also be some consequences for your business or company.
Different parts of the government influence the customs laws in the country. For example, the Food and Drug Administration regulates the import and export of pharmaceutical drugs. The legislation regarding customs related to pharmaceuticals is put together by them. The Environmental Protection Agency has banned or restricted certain items that have a negative environmental impact.
False declarations is one of the most common areas in which there are problems with customs. After you have gone on a business trip or flown internationally, you will need to go through customs to get back into the US. Similarly, if you’ve never been in the US, you have to go through customs when you visit.
Part of this process is declaring the value of the items you’ve brought with you. You must also accurately describe the items. Any gifts that you buy or other items that you pick up must be declared, and they must be compliant with federal import regulations.
If you lie about the value of your items, leave items out on purpose, or lie about what your items are, you might be charged with making a false declaration. Entering the country with more than 10,000 dollars in currency without declaring it can also lead to charges.
Export violations are another common type of criminal charge. There are restrictions in place when you export different goods. With some goods, you need to have a legal license to export them. Other goods might have export restrictions based on where you can ship them to or what they can be used for when the other person receives them. You can’t ship anything to Iran right now, and you can’t export weapons to terrorists.
Import violations are the next most common type of criminal charge. Like your personal items, anything you import into the country must be declared. You need to fill out the appropriate paperwork with accurate information. You’ll also need to pay taxes on your shipments. If you intentionally lie about the nature of your items or their value to try to avoid paying taxes, you can be charged with a crime. In addition, you might be charged with crimes for importing items that are banned in the US.
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