Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, Illinois criminal law statutesOver the past few years, there has been a wave of civil rights protests in the wake of jury decisions in different criminal cases across the country. Protesters, community leaders, activists and even some local politicians refer to these events  as miscarriages of justice and violations of civil rights. But what exactly are “civil rights,” and what constitutes a violation of these rights?

Defining “Civil Rights”

Generally speaking, “civil rights” refer to an individual’s right to be free from unequal treatment or discrimination in a variety of settings. Some of these settings include housing, employment, education, and treatment by law enforcement and the judicial system. A violation of one’s civil rights occurs when one individual is treated differently by another individual or a local, state, or federal agency on the basis of some “protected” classification. For instance, the following would be considered violations of a person’s civil rights:

  • Refusing to hire a person – or even to ask inappropriate questions during an interview – on the basis of the person’s race, national origin, sex, age, or disability (amongst other classifications);
  • Offering less-favorable rental or sale terms, refusing to rent to certain individuals, or refusing to even show a house on the basis of a person’s race, color, religion, or familial status; and
  • Police officers arresting an individual without probable cause, causing a prosecution to be initiated against an individual without probable cause, or applying excessive force against an individual (usually on the basis of a person’s race, color, or national origin).

Civil rights are most often created and guaranteed by federal laws, although a number of states also have laws that mirror the federal laws.

Civil rights should not be confused with civil liberties. Whereas civil rights concern being free from unequal treatment in various spheres, civil liberties are those freedoms guaranteed either explicitly or implicitly by the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Civil liberties would include the freedom of speech and the freedom to petition the government for change.

What to Do When You Feel Your Civil Rights Have Been Violated

Federal and state laws allow individuals whose civil rights have been violated to recover certain damages. Such victims are also entitled to certain other forms of relief. But civil rights cases are complex and your particular facts and circumstances must be actionable under the law. In order to increase your chances of success, you should:

  • Record as many details about the incident as possible, including when the event happened, who was involved, what exactly happened, and the names of any witnesses or descriptions of evidence (photographs, video recordings, etc.) that might be available;
  • Depending on the type of violation, contact local, state, and/or federal agencies that investigate claims of discrimination or violations of civil rights;
  • Contact an experienced civil rights attorney who can evaluate the facts of your case and inform you if your case is actionable under the law; and
  • Be prepared for a lengthy process, as civil rights cases can take a long time to resolve.

If you believe your civil rights have been violated, contact an Chicago defense attorney at the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel today at (312) 629-0669 for a free consultation.


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embezzlementEmbezzlement is defined as theft of funds that have been placed in a legal trust or to an employer, adversely affecting businesses and people worldwide. Those who are involved in this federal crime often exhibit certain behaviors, such as living beyond their means, complaints about lack of authority, excessive family or peer pressure for success, instability in life situations, and control issues.

Embezzlement Red Flags

Embezzlers often exhibit behaviors that should be interpreted as red flags, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. In over 80 percent of the reported cases, the embezzler has exhibited at least one of these additional behavioral traits in the period before the embezzlement was discovered:

  • Financial difficulties;
  • Unusually close relationship with vendor or customer;
  • Divorce or other family problems;
  • Wheeler-dealer attitude, defined as the attitude of someone who engages in commercial scheming for his or her own benefit;
  • Irritability, suspiciousness, or defensiveness;
  • Addiction problems;
  • Past employment-related problems;
  • Complaints about inadequate pay;
  • Refusal to take vacations;
  • Excessive pressure from within organization; and
  • Past legal problems.


In 2012, the median loss caused by embezzlement was $140,000. Over 20 percent of the embezzlement cases reviewed involved losses of over $1 million. Each year, a business will typically lose about five percent of its revenue to fraud and embezzlement. Unfortunately, many of the losses are never recovered, and businesses and people are left with less property and assets.

Real Life Example

The bank account of a Chicagoland firm was described clearly by prosecutors as a “personal ATM.” A legal secretary took $550,000 from the company for “whatever she needed whenever she needed it.” The legal secretary explained her reasoning for the money by writing unauthorized checks, forging signatures, and writing checks in her name from the firm’s client’s estate. When a check bounced, the embezzlement was finally discovered.

Contact Your Cook County Federal Crime Attorney

Embezzlement is a very serious crime that can lead to life-changing consequences, such as felonies and time in prison, as well as lack of financial security on the victim’s end. If you are accused of embezzlement or have any questions, contact a skilled Chicago federal crimes attorney at (312) 629-0669 to get the assistance you deserve. Attorney Hal Garfinkel has over fifteen years of practicing criminal justice law, and he has much experience with handling federal crimes.





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Illinois federal crimes attorney, Illinois criminal attorney, Illinois defense lawyer,If you have a felony conviction, the last thing you want is to find yourself standing in front of a judge again. After serving a punishment, individuals with prior felony convictions find themselves obeying the law down to the speed limit to avoid being separated from their family and friends for any duration again. Unfortunately, others find themselves back in trouble with the law because they were unaware that certain aspects of life might have changed for them due to their record. One change includes the loss of the ability to own firearms. Being found in possession of a firearm with a felony conviction is the most severe of weapons-related charges.

Firearms and Ammunition Are Off Limits

Once you have a felony conviction on your criminal record, you are no longer eligible for the Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card required by the Illinois Department of State Police. DSP reserves the right to deny, revoke, or seize a card at any given time if they find they qualifications are not met. Instances in which disqualification occurs include:

  • Not meeting the 21-year-old age requirement,
  • A record of a felony conviction,
  • Narcotics addiction,
  • Record of receiving patient services from a mental health facility,
  • Anyone judged mentally or developmentally disabled,
  • A mental condition that is decidedly a danger to oneself or others,
  • Prior conviction of a violent crime involving a firearm, or
  • Non-resident status of the state, with exceptions.

Potential Penalties of Mixing Felonies with Firearms

To be caught in possession of a firearm after being convicted of a felony results in harsh penalties, if convicted again. The standard charge is Unlawful Use of a Weapon by a Felon, although the charges may vary. Penalties are dependent on the reasoning for the prior conviction. Possession of a Controlled Substance would likely receive a lighter sentence than someone previously convicted of a felony of a violent crime because of differences in the severity and classifications of the criminal history. If, however, this is the third felony in a row, there is a possibility of being charged as an Armed Habitual Criminal, which is a Class X felony. Class X felonies face up to 30 years in prison with zero chances of probation.

Protect Your Future

If you face a charge of Unlawful Use of a Weapon by a Felon or even being judged as an Armed Habitual Criminal, it is imperative for your future that you contact an attorney as soon as possible. Illinois harshly penalizes those using firearms and other weapons without the proper authorization. Our goal is to either have the charges dropped or reduced in your favor. If you are interested in discussing your case with a skilled Chicago weapons violations defense attorney, the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel would like to assist you in your case. We proudly offer a free and confidential initial consultation. Call us today to find the help you need at 312-629-0669.



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Illinois federal crimes attorney, Illinois criminal attorney, Illinois defense lawyer,Those Illinois residents who have either had experience with the court system or who are casual followers of court cases know that the vast majority of criminal proceedings end in a verdict (either as the result of plea negotiations or a trial) wherein the court either finds the defendant guilty or not guilty of the charged offense. There are a few trials, however (most recently and notably, the criminal trial of comedian Bill Cosby), where the case does not end with a verdict. Instead, the court finds that a mistrial has occurred.

While it may seem like a trial that results in no verdict may be beneficial for you, the defendant charged with the crime, such a finding may not be as advantageous as may first appear.

When Is a Mistrial Declared in an Illinois Criminal Case?

Most mistrials occur because of one of two reasons: either the jury is unable to come to a unanimous decision concerning the guilt or innocence of the accused, or some fundamental error occurred during the trial that made it impossible for the defendant to receive a fair trial. Some examples of the latter might include:

  • A witness has discussed the defendant’s criminal history in front of the jury;
  • The prosecutor has made an improper argument during opening or closing statements; and/or
  • Someone affiliated with either the prosecution and/or the defense has spoken with a member of the jury after the trial has commenced.

A mistrial will also be declared in an Illinois criminal case if it appears that a jury cannot reach a unanimous decision despite being afforded an adequate opportunity to do so and being encouraged to find common ground, if possible.

What Happens after a Mistrial Is Declared?

Either party may move the court for a mistrial if the party believes grounds for such a declaration exist. If the mistrial is due to a deadlocked jury (that is, a jury that cannot reach a unanimous verdict), then the prosecution is usually free to retry the defendant in a subsequent trial. Conversely, if the mistrial is due to some error or misconduct committed by the prosecution, a mistrial may be prohibited under the principle of double jeopardy.

What Can a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Do?

It is important that you are represented by a dedicated Chicago federal crimes attorney at each stage of your criminal case. This will help ensure that a mistrial is requested at appropriate times during your case and that you are protected from a subsequent retrial (if the mistrial comes as the result of prosecutorial misconduct). TheLaw Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel are well-equipped to handle your criminal case, whether you are charged with a serious crime. We will help you determine the most appropriate course of action and ensure your rights as a defendant are respected. Call our firm or contact us online for professional legal representation in your federal criminal case today.


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