John Helms, a Dallas Federal Criminal Lawyer, gives insight into the situations that lead to smuggling becoming reckless endangerment, particularly in alien smuggling instances. While exceeding a vehicle's rated capacity does not automatically result in a longer sentence, other considerations, such as the circumstances within the vehicle, do.
According to Helms, Section 2L1.1 of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines encourages judges to increase a defendant's offense level if the smuggling deliberately poses a significant danger of death or serious bodily injury.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, a federal appeals court that covers Texas, has devised a functional method that considers elements such as oxygen availability, exposure to severe temperatures, communication with the driver, capacity to evacuate swiftly, and danger in the event of an accident.
Individuals piled on each other or packed between seats may constitute reckless endangerment, although merely riding in the back of a full-size cargo van without seatbelts may not. When disputing irresponsible endangerment claims, Helms recommends that defense counsel focuses on establishing the case's unique facts and whether they demonstrate unsafe overcrowding.
Helms underlines the need to employ a counsel experienced in alien smuggling matters to properly advocate for a fair and just outcome, given the influence of reckless endangerment on calculating the defendant's offense level and the ensuing suggested sentencing range.