Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerWhen many people hear of the federal justice system, they may at first imagine tough United States attorneys and convictions that come with much harsher sentences in federal prison. Both of these are elements of the federal justice system, but there is also much more to it than just that. There are also many ways this system varies from the state justice system in Illinois. Below are just a few of the main differences between the two.

The Judges

According to the Constitution, federal judges are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. In most cases, federal judges hold these positions for life. The only exception to this is if they are charged with misconduct in which case, Congress will hold impeachment hearings and determine whether a judge should be removed.

State judges, on the other hand, are elected into their position and they are not guaranteed to hold it for life. If they wish to remain on the bench, they must run for re-election.

Types of Cases Heard

Perhaps the biggest difference between the federal and state justice systems is that they hear different types of cases. The state court will hear criminal cases when they involved an alleged violation of state law, most probate cases, family law cases, and most tort and contract cases.

Federal courts, however, hear cases where the constitutionality of the law is in question, cases that involve federal treaties and laws, bankruptcy cases, disputes that involve more than one state, and cases that involve ambassadors and public ministers.


The state has limited resources when it comes to investigating and prosecuting cases. However, the federal government has essentially unlimited resources at their disposal. This typically means that government agencies earnestly pursue individuals they believe to be guilty of a crime, and will stop at almost nothing in that pursuit.


The state courts are often extremely backlogged, meaning that cases move through this system at a sluggish speed. The federal courts, on the other hand, do not hear as many cases and so, they move through the federal justice system at breakneck speed, comparatively.

Chance of Success for the Prosecution

State attorneys will often take on a case if they think they have any chance of winning it. They may have a hunch that the case will end in a plea deal, but they still take on many more cases than federal prosecutors. United States’ attorneys, however, do not take on as many cases. They usually only pursue a case if they are fairly certain they are going to get the conviction and the outcome they are after. This makes defending these cases even more difficult, as the federal prosecutors typically already have a fairly strong case against the defendant.

Charged with a Federal Crime? Our Chicago Federal Defense Lawyer Can Help

If you have been charged with a federal crime, you need the help of an experienced Chicago federal defense lawyer that understands the system. You need the help of Attorney Garfinkel at the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel. Attorney Garfinkel has the experience necessary to defend federal cases, and help you beat the charges. Call us today at 312-270-0999 to schedule your free consultation.


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IL fraud attorney, IL counterfeit crimes lawyer, Illinois defense lawyerThe FBI has recently broken up a counterfeiting scheme involving fake iPhones and iPads. The scheme was a sophisticated one. Although the devices were fake, they contained the original International Mobile Equipment Identity numbers and serial numbers. These are nearly impossible to counterfeit and usually only appear on original products. The suspects are three brothers that now face a number of counterfeiting charges. Many people think that counterfeiting is a somewhat old crime, but stories like this show it is just as prevalent as ever. So, what are the penalties for it, and are there any defenses to these charges?

The Definition of Counterfeiting Under the Law

Under the law, found at 18 U.S.C.A., Section 471, counterfeiting is defined as intending to defraud, falsely create, forge, counterfeit, or alter any security of the United States. The term ‘security of the United State’ indicates U.S. currency. However, for a bill to be considered counterfeit, the fake must be close enough to real currency that it would fool a reasonable person.

Although the statute indicates mainly U.S. currency, individuals may face penalties for counterfeiting other items, as well. These items include:

  • Documents from certain agencies, such as banks and credit unions
  • Bonds, contracts, proposals, bids, affidavits, and public records created for the purpose of defrauding the United States
  • Documents relating to imports, or customs duties
  • Documents from a federal court
  • Seals from federal agencies
  • Postal stamps from the U.S. Post Office

According to the statute, the penalty for counterfeiting securities, or currency, is a maximum fine of $250,000, up to 20 years in prison, or both. The penalty for other types of counterfeiting is up to 25 years in prison and the same maximum fine of $250,000.

Defenses to Counterfeiting

The only viable defense to counterfeiting is that a defendant did not have the intent to defraud anyone, and this only applies to currency and other securities of the United States. This defense will not work with other types of counterfeiting, such as federal agency seals, because the intent to defraud is not an element of those crimes.

However, if a person is charged with counterfeiting securities or currency, they can show that they created the counterfeit piece as a joke. If they can show that they never intended to defraud anyone, or that a reasonable person would have known it was a fake, this can provide a valid defense.

Facing Charges? Call Our Illinois Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys

Facing charges of counterfeiting, or any other federal crime for that matter may seem quite hopeless. It does not have to be, though. At the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel, our skilled Chicago federal criminal defense attorney can help. Attorney Garfinkel can create a solid defense to help you beat the charges, or get them reduced for a lower sentence. Call us today at 312-270-0999 to schedule your free consultation and to learn more about how we can help with your case.


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Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerIn late November, a story emerged from Missouri that involved an injured eagle. The University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine confirmed that an eagle was shot and injured, a rare injury for an eagle to sustain. Veterinarians have helped repair the eagle’s wing that was injured but now, authorities are looking for a suspect that may have committed a federal crime.

The story has many people talking. Not only because it involved an injured bald eagle, but because it brought to attention something that many people thought was just a myth. Is it really a federal crime to kill a bald eagle? Yes, it is, and the eagle does not have to die in order for federal charges to stand. Even injuring an eagle, or any part of an eagle’s nest or eggs could also result in federal charges.

The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act

The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act has been in place since 1940 when Congress passed it as federal law. Congress enacted the legislation in response to the fact that the number of bald eagles was declining rapidly around the state. The Act originally only included the bald eagle. In 1962, the Act was expanded on by Congress to include golden eagles.

The Act makes it a violation of the law to own, sell, hunt, or even offer to sell, hunt, or own, bald eagles. While the Act certainly includes the living animals, it also includes eagle feathers, nests, eggs, and any body part of an eagle. Under the Act, even harassing an eagle is considered against the law, even if the eagle is not injured or killed as a result.

When a person owned eagles, or any part of an eagle, prior to 1940 when the law was passed, they are not violating the law. However, the Act does not provide any protection for individuals that sell an eagle, or any part of an eagle, regardless of when they acquired it.

Penalties Under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act

A person can face both criminal and civil penalties when they are found in violation of the Act.

Criminal penalties include a maximum fine of $5,000, imprisonment of one year, or both. When a person is found in violation of the Act for a second time, penalties are doubled. Additionally, when a person is convicted, any person that reported the crime will be paid $2,500.

Facing Charges? Our Illinois Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

A person may accidentally injure or kill a bald eagle. Also, like any other crime, sometimes the wrong people are accused. If you have been charged for a violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, call our skilled Chicago federal criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel today. We know how to defend against these charges and give you the best chance of a positive outcome. Call us today at 312-270-0999 to schedule your free consultation and to learn more about how we can help with your case.


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Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerSo, a grand jury has convened and determined that there is enough to indict you. It looks like you are headed to a federal criminal trial and there is no hope for anything else to happen. While it may seem that way, that is not always the case. At this point, you must speak to a federal criminal defense attorney. A federal attorney can advise you on the many options you still have, including those below that could have your case dismissed.

Biased Jury

Under the Fifth Amendment, you have the right to an independent, informed, and unbiased jury. If for any reason, your attorney feels as though the jury was prejudiced in any way, this is a reason for dismissal. For example, if your case is high profile in the area the grand jury was convened in, and the jury was not sequestered, this is enough reason to have your case dismissed.

An Abundant Reliance on Hearsay

Unlike in federal court, when a grand jury hears the evidence of a case, hearsay is allowed. Hearsay is any evidence that a witness did not see or hear on their own but rather, was told about by a third party. Although hearsay is allowed, federal prosecutors are not allowed to present that evidence as 100 percent reliable because it will not be allowed in the actual trial. If the prosecutor did this with hearsay evidence, your case may be dismissed.

Failure to Disclose False Statements

There is a chance that the grand jury will hear false statements. When these statements are made and the federal prosecutor does nothing to inform the grand jury that they are false, the grand jury may choose to indict based on those false statements. In these instances, a federal criminal defense attorney can get your case dismissed based on that fact alone.

Failure to Present Exculpatory Evidence

Exculpatory evidence is evidence that proves you are not guilty. The federal prosecutor can bring forward evidence that helps prove their case. However, they must also bring forward exculpatory evidence. This is the only way the grand jury can make a fair and informed decision as to whether or not they should decide to indict. When the prosecution fails to present this exculpatory evidence along with any evidence that could help there case, this is another reason your case may be dismissed.

An Illinois Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer Will Help Every Step of the Way

Facing federal criminal charges seems like a hopeless situation. It is important to remember that when you are working with the right skilled Chicago federal criminal defense attorney, it is not. At the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel, our attorney knows the many ways to help you beat the charges. He has the experience necessary to fight for you every step of the way and will exhaust all options to help you retain your freedom. Call us today at 312-270-0999 for your free consultation to schedule a meeting with our experienced attorney and to learn more about how he can help with your case.


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