Illionois defense attorney, Illinois federal crimes lawyer, Illinois criminal defense lawyerIdentity theft has become a well-known term in recent years. However, until recently it had no legal definition. It was not until the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 that identity theft was recognized as a crime. And yes, it is now considered to be a federal crime.

The penalties for identity theft are severe. Anyone charged with this crime needs to speak to an Illinois federal crimes attorney that can help with their case.

History of Identity Theft

Before 1998, identity theft was known as “false personation.” However, this crime involved someone misrepresenting their own identity rather than stealing someone else’s.

False personation was very different than identity theft. While this crime may be committed so someone could avoid facing legal consequences of their actions, identity theft is nearly always about gaining access to someone else’s money.

Purpose of the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998

When this Act was created in 1998, it had four main purposes. The first was to recognize that identity theft was a crime against individuals. Until that point, it was largely seen as a crime against creditors.

The second purpose of the Act was to make the general public aware that the Federal Trade Commission was and is the official organization where identity theft should be reported.

The Act also increased penalties for identity theft and fraud. Lastly, it is very explicit in stating that stealing information is a crime. Prior to the Act, it was only a crime to produce or possess fake identity documents.

Other Laws Pertaining to Identity Theft

In addition to the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998, there have also been other laws created pertaining to identity theft.

The Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act of 2004 is one such law. This Act defines aggravated identity theft. Aggravated identity theft occurs when someone steals another’s identity in order to commit a felony such as immigration violations, theft of Social Security benefits, and domestic terrorism.

Four years later, the Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act was enacted in 2008. This Act allows federal courts to prosecute even in cases when the victim and the perpetrator live in the same state. It also provides that restitution should be paid for any time spent correcting the problems caused by identity theft.

Penalties for Identity Theft

The penalties for identity theft will vary, depending on whether it is prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony.

A misdemeanor conviction could result in the accused spending up to one year in jail. They could also be required to pay high fines to the federal court. A felony conviction, on the other hand, will be much more severe. These crimes carry a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in prison and fines.

Call the Illinois Federal Crime Lawyer that can Help

Being charged with identity theft is very serious. If you have been charged with this crime, get the help you need from an experienced Chicago federal crime lawyer today. The Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel will prepare a strong defense to give you the best chance of a successful outcome. These are not charges you want to fight on your own. Call us today at 312-629-0669 for your free consultation so we can start reviewing your case.


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Illionois defense attorney, Illinois federal crimes lawyer, Illinois criminal defense lawyerEven with the widely publicized arrest and later conviction of Martha Stewart for insider trading, many people still are not aware of what this crime entails. Many also think that it is a crime of the affluent or those that have acquired fame, perhaps due to the Stewart scandal in 2003. However, people are charged with insider trading more often than many think. So, what does this crime involve? And what are the penalties associated with it?

Insider Trading Defined

Insider trading is when an individual has a fiduciary duty to another individual, institution, corporation, or other entity and makes an investment decision based on information that is not available the general public. The decision can be made in order to profit from that investment or to avoid losses in others. In the Martha Stewart case, she sold her ImClone stocks in order to avoid a loss.

Interestingly, insider trading has only been considered a crime in the past several decades. Early in the twentieth century, the Supreme Court actually called insider trading an advantage of being an executive. After the opulent 1920s, and the subsequent Great Depression, public opinion shifted, and the courts’ did as well.

It was at this time that insider trading was no longer allowed, and when the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 was created.

Penalties for Insider Trading

The penalties for insider trading will vary, depending on the nature and severity of the case. Most of the time, the penalties will include a combination of fines and jail times. In Stewart’s case, she was forced to pay $30,000 and spent five months in federal prison.

Over the past several years, the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) has also been working to disallow anyone convicted of insider trading to serve as an executive in a publicly-traded company.

Defending an Insider Trader Charge

Like any other crime, the prosecution in an insider trading case must prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In insider trading cases specifically, they must prove that securities were actually sold or purchased, that it happened while the defendant had knowledge not available to the general public, and that the information was material. In order for the information to be material, it must be proven that another investor would have thought the information was relevant when determining whether to sell or purchase securities.

A proper defense can challenge any of these elements. If the media had leaked information pertaining to a certain security, it would be considered general knowledge the public had access to. Or, perhaps the information was not material and so, should not be considered relevant in an insider trading case.

All of these defenses are possibilities, but no one should ever try to fight these serious charges on their own.

Contact a Chicago Federal Crimes Lawyer

If you have been charged with insider trading, or any other federal crime, contact a skilled Chicago federal crimes lawyer in Chicago that can help. At the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel, we know how to defend charges like these, and we will get to work right away to prepare you the best possible defense. Do not take a chance on your future. Call us today at 312-629-0669 for a free consultation so we can start reviewing your case.


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Illionois defense attorney, Illinois federal crimes lawyer, Illinois criminal defense lawyerThe term ‘counterfeiting’ can be used to describe any number of fake articles. Counterfeit art or fake commercial items such as designer apparel can all be considered counterfeits. However, these goods are not covered by federal law. So what is the federal crime of counterfeiting? And what are the penalties one may face?

Being charged with the federal crime of counterfeiting is very serious. Anyone that has been accused needs to speak to a Chicago federal criminal defense attorney that can give them the best chance of beating the charges.

Federal Counterfeiting Definition

According to the U.S. Code, Title 18, Chapter 25, the federal crime of counterfeiting involves producing, possessing, and using false documents that are used to cheat the government of the United States. These include:

  • Currency;
  • Securities, such as stock certificates;
  • Letters of patent;
  • Ship documents;
  • Postage stamps;
  • Military documents;
  • Legal documents including power of attorney documents, deeds, and certificates; and
  • Government documents, such as birth certificates.

While these are the crimes outlined in Chapter 25 of the U.S. Code, there are other federal counterfeiting crimes a person could be charged for as well.

Other Counterfeiting Crimes

Anyone involved in any type of counterfeiting can also be charged with a federal crime. These crimes include:

  • Possessing counterfeit items;
  • Using a counterfeit item and stating or acting as though it is legitimate;
  • Possessing tools used in the production of counterfeit items;
  • Removing or changing the VIN number on automotive vehicles;
  • Pasting portions of notes or bills together to create a counterfeit;
  • Manufacturing, selling, or possessing tokens or other currency substitutes; and
  • Trafficking in counterfeit goods and services.

Penalties for Counterfeiting

The penalties for different counterfeiting crimes vary. For the most common type of counterfeiting, creating false currency, the penalties include up to 25 years in federal prison and a potential fine of up to $250,000.

If the accused benefits financially from the crime, or caused someone else to suffer financially, the penalties will be increased. In these instances, the penalties could include doubling the amount that was gained or lost, with the accused required to pay that amount in fines to the court.

Issuing false securities also carries steep fines and a maximum of 20 years in federal prison. If someone is convicted of counterfeiting postage stamps, the penalties include potential fines and up to five years in federal prison.

Contact a Chicago Federal Crimes Lawyer for Help

Being charged with counterfeiting, or any other federal crime, is very serious. If convicted, a person may spend several years in federal prison, and they will have a permanent mark on their criminal record.

If you have been charged with counterfeiting, call a dedicated Chicago federal crimes lawyer. The Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel can provide you with the necessary defense to give you the best chances of a successful outcome in court. Do not wait, or try to beat these charges on your own. Call us today at 312-629-0669 for your free consultation.


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Illionois defense attorney, Illinois federal crimes lawyer, Illinois criminal defense lawyerAccording to the FBI, hate crimes in the United States rose by 17 percent in 2018. That makes it the third consecutive year that these numbers have increased. What may be even more troubling is that it has been estimated that less than ten percent of hate crimes in the country actually show up in the FBI’s data. But what exactly is a hate crime? Is it different than hate speech? And what are the penalties?

Hate crimes, and their penalties, can be very serious. Anyone charged with a hate crime needs to speak to a federal crimes lawyer in Illinois as soon as possible to give themselves the best chance of success in court.

What Is a Hate Crime?

The FBI classifies a hate crime as an additional crime tied to any other offense. If a person commits murder, arson, vandalism, assault, or any other crime with an added element of bias, it is considered a hate crime. That bias could be based on someone’s religion, sexual orientation, race, disability, or gender.

When these crimes are committed, and they have the additional element of bias, it is considered a hate crime. Hate crimes, in the United States, are considered federal crimes.

When someone is convicted of a hate crime, they are sentenced to penalties for the original offense they committed. Additional penalties, such as longer sentencing or higher fines, are then added to that original sentence for the hate crime element of the offense.

Difference in Hate Crimes and Hate Speech

Canada and the European Union both have laws pertaining to hate speech and the penalties involved if someone is convicted. In the United States though, hate speech is not a crime. It is protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

For example, if someone assaulted someone due to their religion, that would be considered a hate crime in the United States. If someone only made disparaging or belittling remarks against someone based on their religion and did not hurt them, that would be considered hate speech. Therefore, there would be no crime committed.

Laws on Federal Hate Crimes

There are many laws pertaining to hate crimes in the United States. One of the earliest is found in the U.S. Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 1. The Church Arson Prevention Act was also passed by Congress in 1996. This makes it a crime to vandalize, damage, or destroy any religious property.

More recently, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was enacted by former President Obama in 2009. This act was named for two victims of a hate crime.

Contact a Federal Crimes Lawyer in Illinois

While facing a charge of a hate crime can seem hopeless, it is not. There are defenses available, and the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel can provide them. Call us today at 312-629-0669 to set up your free consultation. We will review your case, determine the best strategy for defense, and then fight to ensure your rights are upheld in the courtroom. When you need the best defense, you need a talented Chicago federal crimes lawyer. So do not wait, call us today.


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