Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerDifferent states have varying laws on carjacking. Many people do not understand, however, that this offense can also be charged as a federal crime. When carjacking is prosecuted at the federal level, the prison sentences for those convicted are typically much longer, and the fines are also much higher as compared to those for a conviction at the state level. Fortunately, there are possible defenses to such charges. To understand what they are, you first must understand when carjacking becomes a federal crime and what the prosecution must prove to secure a conviction.

When Is Carjacking Considered a Federal Crime?

Under 18 USC 2119, carjacking is a federal crime when a person takes a motor vehicle that has been transported, shipped, or received in interstate or foreign commerce. Essentially, the vehicle must cross state or country lines for the crime to be considered a federal offense.

The law states that for federal carjacking to have occurred, a vehicle must be taken from someone else by use of force, violence, or intimidation. The statute also includes attempting to use force or intimidation, even if these attempts are unsuccessful. Additionally, under the federal statute, that force or intimidation must be done with the intention of causing death or serious bodily harm.

To secure a conviction for this federal offense, the prosecution must prove all four elements of the alleged offense outlined in the statute. They must prove that you knowingly took the vehicle and that you used force, violence, or intimidation while doing so. The prosecution must also prove that the vehicle was transported, shipped, or received across state or national borders. The last element of proof is that it must be shown that you also intended to cause death or serious bodily harm while you were taking the vehicle from another person.

Possible Defenses to Carjacking

To defend against the federal offense of carjacking, you must make arguments that contradict the prosecution’s proof. The first way to do this is by arguing that the vehicle did not cross state or country lines. If other elements of the crime can be proven, you may still face state carjacking charges, but the penalties for these are typically much less severe than those that come with a federal conviction.

The alleged victim of the crime must also be within the proximity of the car in order for federal carjacking to have occurred. Again, if you stole a car when the owner or alleged victim was not around at the time, you could face other charges, but they will likely not include carjacking.

Lastly, if you did not intend to cause death or serious bodily injury, this can also be used as a defense to carjacking. For example, if you shouted at someone to give you their car and they complied with your demands but got struck and killed by another vehicle shortly after, an attorney can prove that you did not intend to cause their death.

Facing Federal Charges? Call an Illinois Federal Criminal Defense Attorney

As with any other federal offense, facing carjacking charges is very scary, and very serious. If you have been charged, you need the help of a skilled Chicago federal criminal defense attorney. At the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel, we know how to prepare a strong defense to get your charges reduced or get your case dismissed so you can retain your freedom. Call us today at 312-270-0999 for your free consultation so we can discuss your case.


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Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerIn most cases, a computer-related crime that is committed anywhere in the U.S. can usually be prosecuted as a federal offense. Of course, each state maintains its own laws regarding computer-based offenses, but such crimes typically involve the internet, which places them under the jurisdiction of federal authorities and the United States federal justice system. For example, those accused of using computers to facilitate drug or weapons trafficking or the exchange of child pornography will usually find themselves facing charges in federal court. The same is true for “hackers” who gain unauthorized access to computer networks or systems via the internet. But what about voting system hacking?

This knowledge—combined with the rampant allegations and rumors of voting-related fraud during the current election campaign—you may be surprised to discover that federal authorities do not currently have a concise process available to prosecute any suspect who is alleged to have hacked a voting system. Late last month, the U.S. House of Representatives took a clear step forward in addressing this problem by unanimously passing a measure that will give the U.S. Justice Department a statutory basis from which to prosecute voter system hacking in federal court.

The Need for a Voting System Hacking Law

The Defending the Integrity of Voting Systems Act originated in the Senate last year following a report issued by the Cyber Digital Task Force—a commissioned extension of the Justice Department. In the report, the Task Force recognized that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) was and continues to be the primary federal statute under which hacking crimes are prosecuted. However, the CFAA, as it is currently written, does not expressly identify voting machines as protected computers, which means hacking into a voting machine is not expressly identified as a federal crime under the CFAA.

Voting machines are not always part of an internet-connected network, which is one of the primary factors in determining if a computer is considered protected by the CFAA. As it stands right now, tampering with a voting system or machine can be prosecuted using other federal laws, but hacking such a machine falls into a very gray area.

Support from Both Parties

Three senators co-sponsored the Defending the Integrity of Voting Systems Act when it was introduced last year, including Democrats Richard Blumenthal (CT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) and Republican Lindsey Graham (SC). The measure would add language to the CFAA that clearly extends protection to voting machines used in federal elections as covered computers. The addition would make hacking such a voting machine or system a federal crime punishable by up to ten years in prison for a first offense.

While political cooperation regarding election matters seems to be at an all-time low, lawmakers recognized the necessity of protecting voting systems. The Senate passed the measure unanimously in 2019, and in September of this year, the House did the same. The Justice Department has expressed its endorsement of the Act, which is now awaiting the signature of President Trump. Experts suggest that Mr. Trump will almost certainly sign the measure, but the White House has not provided any information regarding if or when he might do so.

Contact a Federal Hacking Defense Attorney in Illinois

At the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel, we understand how serious federal computer-related charges can be. If you are facing such accusations, it is critical to work closely with an experienced Chicago federal computer crimes defense lawyer. Call 312-270-0999 for a free, confidential consultation with a member of our team today. We will help you understand your options and assist you in building the best possible defense for your unique situation.


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Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerThe crime of mail fraud was first addressed by the federal government in the mid-1800s after evidence surfaced that people were using the U.S. mail system to conduct various scams. The interstate nature of the mail (and eventually wire service) effectively required the matter to be one of federal interest. As a result, in 1872, it became a federal crime for a person to use mail services—and now the internet—to willingly and knowingly deprive another person of their money, property, and/or services.

It is important to keep in mind that in order for an act or scheme to constitute mail or wire fraud, it must intend to defraud another party by means of wire communication or the mail. This means that an advertisement for a legitimate product or service—even one that is deceptive or misleading—is not generally considered fraudulent. The intent of the accused is the key to the case. The suspect must have intended to obtain something for nothing in order for the act to constitute fraud.

State and Federal Charges

In Illinois and some other states, wire and mail fraud are also prosecutable at the state level. If you are charged with both state-level mail fraud and federal mail fraud, your cases will likely be pushed up to federal court. The elements of such cases are similar at both levels.

According to both Illinois and U.S. law, an individual commits the crime of mail fraud when he or she develops a plan to defraud another party of money by means of mail communication. The person’s intent to defraud is considered present if he or she:

  • Puts a fraudulent communication in a U.S. mailbox, post office, or other authorized depository to be sent by the United States Postal Service (USPS)
  • Deposits a fraudulent mailing that is to be sent by a commercial or private delivery service, such as UPS or FedEx
  • Intentionally causes a fraudulent communication to be delivered by the USPS or any other carrier service

Federal Penalties for Mail Fraud

When mail fraud charges are filed at the federal level, the penalties for a conviction are likely to be severe. A conviction on a single count of mail fraud can result in up to 20 years in federal prison and fines of up to $250,000. If the fraud was related to federal disaster relief programs or the victim was a financial institution, the penalties can be increased to up to 30 years in prison and up to $1 million in fines. In many cases, a convicted suspect must also pay restitution to his or her victims.

Contact a Chicago Federal Fraud Defense Attorney

If you or someone you love is facing federal or state charges for mail fraud, it is important to seek legal help immediately. Contact an experienced Cook County federal white-collar crimes lawyer at the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel today. Call 312-270-0999 to schedule a free consultation. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day to serve you.


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Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyer, IL criminal defendant rights, Being accused of any type of crime can be completely overwhelming and confusing, whether it is a federal drug crime or an allegation related to child pornography. A criminal defendant may not know that he or she still has certain rights after being arrested and charged with a crime. These rights are protected by the United States Constitution and other state and federal laws. If you are facing criminal charges, it is important to remember that you are innocent until proven guilty, and you deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. It is important to know about the rights every criminal defendant has and what to do if your rights have been violated.

The Right to Remain Silent

Even if you have never before been arrested, you are probably familiar with the “right to remain silent.” This right is listed along with many others during the Miranda Warning—which should have been read to you during or after your arrest. You have a right to stay silent when questioned by police so that you can avoid incriminating yourself. Many criminal defendants inadvertently give police and prosecutors evidence which is later used against them by talking too much in the moments after the arrest, so it is critical that you do not consent to police questioning until you have an attorney present. An experienced criminal defense attorney will help you avoid the tactics that police often use in an attempt to get you to admit to a crime.

The Right to Know the Criminal Accusations Against You

In television and movies, an individual is sometimes arrested and held in police custody without being informed as to why he or she is being detained. In reality, criminal defendants have a Constitutional right to know the crime or crimes he or she has been accused of committing. You also have the right to a speedy trial, the right to a trial by jury, the right to confront witnesses, the right to have witnesses testify on your account, and the right to receive legal counsel from a qualified lawyer.

The Right to Be Presumed Innocent Until Prosecutors Meet the Burden of Proof

Sometimes, when a defendant is accused of a crime, it can feel like he or she is responsible for proving that the accusations against him or her are false. However, this is not exactly correct. It is the prosecutor’s responsibility to prove that the accusations against you are true. Generally, you have no responsibility under the law to prove anything. If you have been charged with a crime, you must be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. If prosecutors cannot find enough evidence to prove that you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, you must be acquitted.

Contact a Chicago Federal Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing criminal charges, contact a Chicago federal crimes defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel. With more than 30 years of criminal law experience, our team is equipped to help you build a responsible, aggressive defense. Call 312-270-09999 to schedule a free consultation today.


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