People smuggling

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What is People Smuggling ?

It is important to differentiate between “trafficking” and “smuggling”. Smuggling always involves illegal border crossing whereas “trafficking” occurs where people are regarded as commodities and does not necessarily involve an illegal border crossing.

There are a number of offences under the Commonwealth criminal law aimed at people smuggling and trafficking.


Since People Smuggling offence is a criminal offence, the burden of proof lies on the Prosecution.

At National Criminal Lawyers we are specialist criminal lawyers who ensure the prosecution must prove each of the elements in the charge beyond reasonable doubt.

That is a high standard of proof that the prosecution must achieve before someone can be convicted of People Smuggling.

To establish People Smuggling, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt;

(1)  A person (the first person) is guilty of an offence of People Smuggling if:

(a)  the first person organises or facilitates the entry of another person (the other person) into a foreign country (whether or not via Australia);

(b)  the entry of the other person into the foreign country does not comply with the requirements under that country’s law for entry into the country; and

(c)  the other person is not a citizen or permanent resident of the foreign country.


National Criminal Lawyers (NCL) have been successful in defending a number of People Smuggling charges where the prosecution could not establish each of the elements of People Smuggling.

NCL offer the following options for those who have been charged with People Smuggling;

  1. We will negotiate with prosecutors (police or DPP) (a term referred to as “plea negotiations”) to request that the charge is withdrawn, downgraded or fact sheets amended;
  2. NCL will Plead Not Guilty and go to hearing/trial and persuade the Court that prosecution has not proven its case beyond reasonable doubt;
  3. Plead guilty to the elements of the charge and then dispute the facts (at a special “disputed facts” hearing) with the view of having you sentenced less harshly; and/or
  4. Plead guilty with full acceptance of the facts as set out by the police and make strong submissions on your behalf requesting that the Court not record a criminal conviction.

Pleading Guilty

If you agree that you have committed the offence and the police are able to prove all the elements of the offence, it is best to plead guilty at an early opportunity to receive the maximum discount. Currently the maximum discount available for an early plea of guilty is 25% of the sentence.

Furthermore, the early guilty plea shows the Court that you have remorse and contrition for your actions.

Our Lawyers at National Criminal Lawyers work closely with you to ensure that we obtain all necessary paper work to get you the best result.

Maximum Penalties

The Commonwealth Criminal Code provides for the following offences and maximum penalties:

Section 73 set out the offences and punishments for people smuggling and supporting people smuggling as follows:

  • Section 73.1 – the offence of people smuggling carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. This offence would include a person who either organises or facilitates the entry of another person into a foreign country, whether or not via Australia.
  • Section 73.2 – aggravated offence of people smuggling. Circumstances of aggravation include exploitation after the entry into a foreign country, the subjection of a victim to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment, or placing a victim in danger of death or serious harm.  The maximum penalty of this offence is 20 years imprisonment.
  • Section 73.3 – aggravated offence of people smuggling with at least 5 people. This carries a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment.
  • Section 73.3A – supporting the offence of people smuggling. This includes a person who has provided any material support or resources to another person or organisation and that support assists in the person or organisation engaging in people smuggling.  This offence carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

Pleading Not Guilty

If you decide to plead not guilty you will need to prepare to go to a Defended Hearing.
A defended hearing is where all the witnesses of that case are called to give evidence. The witnesses are both examined by the prosecution and tested by your defence lawyers.
National Criminal Lawyers have defended People Smuggling charges and are experts at these hearings.


Some of the possible defences available for those charged with People Smuggling can include;

  • If you were compelled to act in a certain way due to the circumstances, or the threats of another you may be able to argue “Duress”;
  • If your actions were necessary to prevent a greater harm from occurring, you may have the defence of “Necessity”.

Possible Penalty's

In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for a People Smuggling charge.

  • Prison sentence;
  • Home Detention;
  • Intensive correction order (previously periodic detention);
  • Suspended sentence;
  • Community service order (CSO);
  • Good behaviour bond;
  • Fine; and/or
  • Section 10.

However, from the 24 September 2018 new penalty’s will be replacing the above. They are as follows:

  • Full time Imprisonment;
  • New ICO (ICO) with a home detention condition available;
  • New Community Correction Order (CCO);
  • Fine and/or
  • New Conditional release Order (CRO)

For more information about possible penalties a NSW court can impose please visit our dedicated Penalties page.

Why National Criminal Lawyers?

There are three reasons to choose National Criminal Lawyers:

1. We get the results

We are the experts in either beating or having criminal charges withdrawn AND/OR obtaining the least restrictive penalty available. This is because no matter which option you choose within our tailored Options at Law you will be dealing with experienced criminal lawyers who can make sure the evidence is not only obtained properly but also that your case is prepared and presented to the highest best practice standards possible. This is also done without breaking your pocket.

2. We give a Senior Defence Lawyer guarantee

No matter which option at law you choose, National Criminal Lawyers can guarantee that a Senior Defence Lawyer will represent you. This means that with our over 25 years of Combined criminal law experience you will get the best result possible.

3. National Criminal Lawyers are the best defenders of your rights

At National Criminal Lawyers we know that Criminal Law is a matter of Human Rights. For this reason, we take pride and passion in representing our clients. This pride and passion to assist those charged with an alleged or actual breach of the criminal law is to us a matter of righteous necessity and in that sense, you can always rest assured that National Criminal Lawyers are the best defenders of your rights. This true not only when the police have just simply got it wrong OR if they have got it right then we can speak with you and make sure you get you the best result available.

If you have been charged with any People Smuggling offence our Team at National Criminal Lawyers are well versed and specialists in having charges either withdrawn and otherwise achieving favourable outcomes.

Please contact our office on 02 9893 1889 or visit www.nationalcriminallawyers.com.au for more information about your options.

Book your first free appointment with National Criminal lawyers now.
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