Because there are so many foreign-born residents in Nebraska and the rest of the United States, it is sometimes difficult for everyone to understand all of our laws. Thankfully, some people who have been convicted of drug crimes, federal crimes, and even violent crimes can have their convictions reversed if there is sufficient evidence to prove their innocence.
Two years ago, a Lincoln woman from Vietnam was found guilty of possessing contraband cigarettes, which she would give to her sister to sell. Because the woman’s sister did not pay state or federal taxes on her sales, the woman was also found guilty of tax evasion. The details of her sentence are unknown. Other than the convictions related to the possession of contraband cigarettes, the woman had no previous criminal history in the United States.
Thankfully, the conviction was recently overturned by a federal appeals court because the woman’s attorneys argued that there was no way for the woman to know that it was illegal to possess the cigarettes, and there was no proof that she was aware that her sister wasn’t paying taxes. It is unknown whether the federal appeals court also considered overturning convictions for the four other people who were involved in the contraband cigarette scheme.
The penalties for smuggling illegal drugs and other substances into the United States are quite severe, but fortunately, the legal system presumes that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and even people who have been convicted of a crime can have their cases re-evaluated. Anyone who has been unfairly convicted of a crime may want to talk to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Source: Omaha, “Nebraska contraband cigarette conviction reversed,” July 15, 2014