New York is a major port of call for businesses around the world. Customs agents who work in New York work diligently uphold the customs laws and regulations of the United States government. This is true for those who work at airports, ports, and at land border crossings. Customs fraud is defined as intentionally attempting to misrepresent information to customs agents with the goal of avoiding paying customs tariffs or bringing illegal or contraband items into the United States of America.
The United States government has no tolerance for individuals who violate their customs laws. Customs agents work closely with the Department of Justice in aggressively prosecuting anyone who violates US custom laws. The fines and penalties for customs fraud are severe. They can amount to tens of thousands of dollars and multiple years spent behind bars. Because of the serious ramifications of customs fraud, anyone who is accused of this crime should immediately speak to a criminal defense lawyer who specializes in customs fraud. No one wants to face a charge of customs fraud on their own. The outcome would not be positive.
There are many different methods that customs agents use in order to discover fraud. One way is through informants. These would be individuals who have been captured committing customs fraud. In exchange for a lesser sentence, they may provide information leading to the capture and arrest of someone who is committing customs fraud. Another way that customs officials can identify fraud is through inspections of goods an individual attempts to bring into the United States of America. They may find that the goods a person is trying to bring into the country do not match the description outlined on the invoice. These are just a few of the methods that customs agents use. Anyone who has found themselves on the wrong side of the United States Customs Agency knows that it is not an enjoyable position to be in.
Usually, custom agents require documentation showing that goods can legally be brought into the United States and showing that the goods the importer is carrying is what he claims them to be. Requesting these documents is usually the first step that customs agents will do in investigating customs fraud. An importer does have the legal right to refuse to surrender the requested documents. However, if and when the case ends up in court, the court has the power to force the importer to surrender the requested documents.
In many cases, once an investigation begins, custom agents can use what is called a pre-penalty. This allows them to require the importer to forfeit the value of their goods based on the fact that an alleged fraud has occurred. This forfeiture of goods can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses for the importer. On their own, it is difficult, if not impossible, for an importer to stand up against the United States government in cases like these. Only by hiring a competent criminal defense attorney who has experience dealing with customs fraud can they have a hope of keeping their property and maintaining their freedom.
If as a result of investigation it is clear that an importer has committed fraud, it is likely that they will be required to pay an expensive monetary fine. In addition to the fine, they may lose their goods, and they may lose the privilege to import things to the United States. Depending on the degree of fraud and whether or not the cargo being transported was legal, the importer may find themselves facing prison time.
With more than three decades of experience dealing with the New York legal system, our attorneys understand the complexities of the US customs systems. We use this knowledge, along with knowledge our attorneys have gained working as assistant district attorneys to create a strong defense for our clients. We are familiar with the ins and outs of the New York legal system, and we are confident in our ability to provide our clients with the best possible outcome in court.
If you or someone you love has been charged with customs fraud, do not leave the results up to chance. Contact our attorneys today and let us work with you to get you the best possible outcome.