Review of Federal Passport Fraud Laws and Defenses
Passports are travel documents that serve as proof of someone's identity and nationality. They are valid for the holder to use them to enter into a foreign country.
Due to the value of a passport, the United States government considers any type of passport crime a serious issue. Clearly, the vast majority of people seeking a U.S. passport are legitimate, but there are many who have criminal intent.
There are various federal laws to prosecute and punish anyone who is convicted of a passport crime discussed below.
Passport crimes come in different forms, such as issuing a passport with proper authorization and using someone else's passport.
United States passports are frequently stolen or fraudulently manufactured in spite of all the efforts by the federal government. Some of the most common ways passport fraud occurs include the following:
- Use of false or fraudulent documents to apply for a passport,
- Using a stolen or altered passport,
- Using the identity of someone else to obtain a passport,
- Manufacturing fake passports,
- Lying on visa application,
- Participating in scam marriage
- Use of counterfeit documents such as birth certificates, social security cards, and passports to unlawfully remain or enter a country.
It's also a crime to make false statements on the application in order to obtain a passport.
False Statements to Obtain a Passport
In order for a federal prosecutor to convict you of passport fraud, they must be able to prove the elements of the crime:
- You willfully made a false statement when applying for a passport,
- You had the intent to obtain a passport for yourself or someone else.
It should be noted that just the attempt to use a passport fraudulently is a violation of federal law.
If convicted of passport fraud, you could face up to ten years in federal prison. If prosecutors can prove the passport was used to further a drug trafficking offense, then you could be facing 20 years in prison. If used for international terrorism, then the sentence increases to 25 years.
Federal Statutes for Passport Fraud
- 18 U.S.C. 1541 – unlawfully issuing a passport;
- 18 U.S.C. 1542 – giving false statements to obtain a passport;
- 18 U.S.C. 1543 – falsifying passports and false use of a passport,
- 18 U.S.C. 1544 – misuse of a passport,
- 18 U.S.C. 1546 – visa fraud.
Further, under federal law, it's a crime to forge, counterfeit, mutilate, or alter any passport with the intent to use it.
It's also illegal to knowingly use, attempt to use, or furnish to someone else for use any false or forged passport or any item purporting to be a passport.
Will I Get Jail Time for Federal Criminal Passport Fraud?
There's a lot of stuff going on right now with passports. When I say a lot of stuff, I mean people are selling fake passports, and the feds don't like it.
They don't want people coming into the country illegally, and they're going to try to get those individuals who are involved in any way with the distribution of fake passports. They're basically looking for the individuals who are making the passports.
So, if you have machines set up in your house or another location and you're selling them on the street, they're going to come in and arrest you. They're going to prosecute you. You're going to be looking at serving 85% of federal prison time.
So, the answer is definitely yes. You are facing prison time at 85% when it comes to a federal criminal passport fraud case, such as:
- making passports,
- distributing passports.
Most of the time, when the feds get involved with these cases, it's on a large scale. It's not just someone on the street who's peddling a fake passport, although that's certainly a place where they can start their investigation when it comes to these cases and be looking to climb up the ladder.
Get those individuals selling them on the streets. Find out who's supplying those individuals; and how they're supplying them. Obviously, they're looking for other states and countries that might be involved.
There's a lot of passport fraud going on. Right now, in the United States, it's very difficult to obtain a passport if you're not a citizen, so people are trying to get those fake passports so they can come into the United States and still operate, meaning have a job, travel and do the various things that people are able to do who have citizenship in the US.
Federal Criminal Defense for Passport Fraud
So, if you or a loved one is charged with some sort of passport fraud-related federal crime, you've come to the right case. I've been handling these cases for many years with a lot of success.
We work hard to keep our clients out of federal prison and defend the case if they're defensible. If they're not defensible, then obviously, we will attempt to negotiate with the prosecutors and get a fair resolution.
One that makes sense under the circumstances and allows the client to live still and work in the United States, provide for their family, and survive in very difficult times right now.
So, pick up the phone. Make the call now if you've got a federal passport fraud-related offense. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.
I've been handling cases in the Central District and all over the United States for the past almost 30 years. I know how to attack the problem.
I know how to get a game plan together, help you, help your loved one, and get you back in a good position. Pick up the phone. Take the first step towards defending a federal passport fraud issue.
Hedding Law Firm is based in Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. Call us for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0994.