Now it is MY understanding that it was originally made a civil penalty rather than a criminal one simply because the lawmakers at the time did not want the courts to have to deal with illegal immigrants nor did they want to populate our jails with people who could simply be deported, BUT if we look at the actual definition of civil law versus criminal law in the US, then violations of 8 U.S.C. § 1325 which reads as (a) Improper time or place; avoidance of examination or inspection; misrepresentation and concealment of facts Any alien who (1) enters or attempts to enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers, or (2) eludes examination or inspection by immigration officers, or (3) attempts to enter or obtains entry to the United States by a willfully false or misleading representation or the willful concealment of a material fact, shall, for the first commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both, and, for a subsequent commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18, or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both. (b) Improper time or place; civil penalties Any alien who is apprehended while entering (or attempting to enter) the United States at a time or place other than as designated by immigration officers shall be subject to a civil penalty of - (1) at least $50 and not more than $250 for each such entry (or attempted entry); or (2) twice the amount specified in paragraph (1) in the case of an alien who has been previously subject to a civil penalty under this subsection. Civil penalties under this subsection are in addition to, and not in lieu of, any criminal or other civil penalties that may be imposed. (c) Marriage fraud Any individual who knowingly enters into a marriage for the purpose of evading any provision of the immigration laws shall be imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or fined not more than $250,000, or both. (d) Immigration-related entrepreneurship fraud Any individual who knowingly establishes a commercial enterprise for the purpose of evading any provision of the immigration laws shall be imprisoned for not more than 5 years, fined in accordance with title 18, or both. Should be enforced with CRIMINAL penalties as opposed to civil penalties. Or are my wife and I wrong in assuming that this is the correct definition of civil vs criminal law in the US Criminal law is much better known to laymen than civil law, as a result of journalists' reports of famous criminal trials. In talking with people about law, I find that they often misapply principles from criminal law to situations in civil (e.g., tort) law, which results in their misunderstanding. They are surprised when they learn the actual legal principles that apply to a problem. The purpose of this essay is to compare and contrast criminal and civil law. In civil law, a private party (e.g., a corporation or individual person) files the lawsuit and becomes the plaintiff. In criminal law, the litigation is always filed by the government, who is called the prosecution. Differences between Civil and Criminal Law I addition, do you personally consider someone who has violated a civil statute, which by the definition above should never exist anyway, has in fact committed an act which makes them a criminal?