Illionois defense attorney, Illinois federal crimes lawyer, Illinois criminal defense lawyerNot everyone convicted of a crime in Illinois is found guilty and sentenced to jail or prison. Depending on a person’s criminal record and the nature of their offense, there is a chance for some to be sentenced to what Illinois calls a diversion program. These can be for first offenders, young offenders, or those for whom a standard jail sentence would not be recommended. Illinois makes extensive use of these programs for certain types of offenders, especially first-time offenders.

Multiple Options

Many of the diversion programs available in Illinois as of this writing are aimed specifically at defendants who have never been in trouble with the law before, the most common of which is called court supervision. While court supervision is locally based in counties and cities rather than a statewide program, it is nonetheless an effective way to have a nonviolent offender serve out a sentence instead of consigning them to incarceration. Essentially, court supervision is when one admits culpability for an offense, but entry of a conviction is postponed or delayed. If the person on supervision completes probation successfully (usually a six month or one year period, though every case is different), no conviction is entered and the record is usually expunged.

While diversion may be an option upon the conclusion of proceedings, pretrial diversion is also possible. DuPage County has its own program, begun in 2012, which offers some first-time offenders the chance to make amends without sustaining a conviction being entered upon their criminal records, especially some which might otherwise be difficult to expunge. In the DuPage County program, offenders must go before a ‘citizens’ panel,’ which will then make a recommendation as to whether or not the person should go into the program. Upon completion of the program, the offense will be either removed from the person’s record or listed as a lesser offense.

Not Automatic

It is imperative to understand that diversion programs must be requested in most cases (as opposed to being given as a sentence freely), and if one requests diversion rather than standard sentencing, the court is not obligated to consent. The court will weigh several factors in making a determination, including any existing mental health issues on the part of the defendant, the nature of the offense, and any substance abuse issues (past or present). These, in addition to the existence or non-existence of a criminal record, are the questions that the judge or jury will be permitted to examine before passing sentence on a defendant, and they are within their rights to recommend jail time.

That said, the courts generally recognize that in many cases, a diversion program is in the best interest of the offender and society as a whole. The state’s General Assembly has taken notice of the fact that many offenders, especially those growing up in poverty or high crime areas, experience “trauma that contributes to poor decision-making skills.” In such cases, it is very plausible that a diversion program would do more to combat recidivism than a prison sentence, and in one’s particular case, it can be advantageous to try and show that they would fall into that group who would benefit from alternatives to incarceration.

Contact an Experienced Legal Professional

While diversion programs can be highly advantageous in terms of keeping potential problems from appearing on one’s criminal record, having an experienced Chicago federal crimes attorneys to represent one’s individual interests is generally recommended to ensure the highest possible chance of being accepted into one. The Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel deals with cases of this type on a regular basis and will work hard to assist with every case that comes through the door. To set up an initial consultation, contact our offices today at 312-629-0669.


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Illionois defense attorney, Illinois federal crimes lawyer, Illinois criminal defense lawyerThe vast majority of people who are prescribed drugs which have potentially harmful side effects are using them in the manner indicated by their doctor. However, some become addicted, or want to make money selling such drugs, and may turn to illegal means to obtain these substances, thinking the consequences will somehow be less severe because, in some instances, possession of such drugs is legal. It is possible to unlawfully possess prescription drugs and to go to jail because of it.

Strictly Regulated

The prescription of certain substances, even in legal scenarios, is highly regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Under the FDA’s regulatory scheme, drugs are divided into what are called schedules. The lower the schedule, the fewer appropriate medical uses a drug has, and the more stringent the protocols for dispensing it to legitimate patients. For example, Xanax is classified as a Schedule IV drug, with low (but still present) risk of dependence and/or addiction and noted genuine medical usages, while Adderall is classified as Schedule II because while it has some occasional use as a legitimate drug, its potential for abuse is high.

Because of these potentially addictive properties, drugs may be prescribed to those who have a true need for them – a person with a panic disorder may have a legitimate need for Xanax, or a person with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may benefit from Adderall. This does not mean that such drugs should be unregulated or available over the counter because those without a legitimate need for them might conceivably abuse them. In some cases, even those who do have a legitimate need for such drugs can abuse them. The societal problems caused by abuse of prescription drugs can be just as great as those caused by heroin or crack cocaine.

Substance Abuse Problems Can Be a Factor

While Illinois authorities can be quite strict in prosecuting prescription drug-related offenses, they will consider the possibility of a defendant’s having substance abuse problems, simply because many do. More so than with street drugs, those who are arrested for prescription drug offenses are more likely to be first-time offenders, and they are also likely to be older. Too many have found themselves in untenable positions, especially after the commencement of the so-called ‘war on opiates’ and made errors in judgment.

If someone is not held to have a substance abuse problem, the offense will generally be prosecuted similarly to any other drug charge. Hearings are usually held relatively quickly, within 120 to 180 days, with a fairly straightforward disposition. Depending on the specific charge, sentencing guidelines range from one to three years for a Class 4 felony to six to 30 years for a Class X felony, and both usually are accompanied by a hefty fine of up to $25,000. The state has a vested interest in clamping down on illegal drug use, and if no extenuating circumstances can be proven, the sentence will be harsh.

Seek Compassionate and Knowledgeable Legal Help

Prescription pill use has real consequences, but each individual case is different and should be argued as such. The experienced Chicago federal crimes attorneys at the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel are experienced in such cases and are happy to attempt to work out an acceptable disposition for everyone who needs our help. Contact the office today to schedule an appointment.


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Illionois defense attorney, Illinois federal crimes lawyer, Illinois criminal defense lawyerOctober is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which seeks to remind businesses and the public of the crimes that can be perpetrated online and the ways everyone can make the internet more secure. The National Cybersecurity Awareness Month was created in 2004 by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance.

The FBI takes this opportunity to remind the public of major recent federal charges and convictions in the online arena, including:

  • The conviction of an online actor who tried to access university databases to commit fraud and identity theft;
  • Charges against a North Korean regime-backed programmer; and
  • Seventy-four arrests in this country and abroad of members of an international criminal network participating in a plan to infiltrate business email accounts.

“Realistically, we know we can’t prevent every attack, or punish every hacker,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said. Director Wray added that the FBI will continue to build on the initiatives it has in place to ferret out cybercrime and will continue to try to forge new partnerships with tech companies and others to keep the U.S. at the forefront of cybersecurity.

Contact a Chicago, IL Internet Crimes Attorney

The FBI treats internet crimes very firmly. As the FBI has said, they are aware that they cannot catch every perpetrator of internet crimes, so the people they accuse will be fully investigated and punished if possible.

Penalties can be extreme and life-changing. It should not be assumed that just because a computer crime is not a crime of violence that you will not go to prison. While each case is different and each charge carries different suggested sentencing ranges, you can be sure that prison is almost always on the table for those convicted of an internet crime.

A knowledgeable Chicago, IL internet crimes lawyer can review the allegations against you and identify your best defenses. Our firm’s lawyer can also advise you on likely outcomes of your case and how you can prepare for your trial or negotiations.

Internet crime charges often hinge on high-tech issues that will involve computer experts. It is critical to your defense to have an attorney who understands this aspect of your case. It is not enough for an attorney to be well-versed in criminal law, he or she must also understand this very technical subject manner.

The Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel has the experience needed to represent clients accused of internet crimes. Contact our office today at 312-629-0669 to set up a free consultation.



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Illionois defense attorney, Illinois federal crimes lawyer, Illinois criminal defense lawyerOnce you post something on social media, you need to assume that the police or prosecutors can find it and use it against you during a criminal trial. Over the years, law enforcement has become very savvy in the ways they can find and access your social media posts as well as how they are used in court.

It is advisable that you tighten your privacy settings and review anyone who can see your profile. Even doing this, however, you should not expect that you have any control over the material once you post or upload it to a social media site. Such material can be shared or reposted and “go viral,” especially if the material appears to portray a crime taking place or other outrageous conduct.

Here are four ways a prosecutor may attempt to use material found on social media:

Placing You at the Scene

Social media posts of photos can place you at the scene or vicinity of the crime on the time and day in question. Some social media posts also tag your location automatically, and other sites allow you to “check-in” to a business, thereby keeping a record of your whereabouts.

Proving Relationships

Perhaps someone accused of a crime is linked to your page, or a photo of you and the person in question is posted. In fact, such a photo could be posted by someone other than yourself who has fewer privacy controls on their social media account.

Coloring Your Character

Pictures can be very misleading pieces of evidence. On the surface, they look straightforward. One might think, “How can a photo lie?” In practice, however, photos can create an impression to a judge or jury that is inaccurate.

Also, it may be that your posts are artistic in nature and have no real basis in your life. Many people publish poetry, song lyrics or short stories that depict illegal or unsavory acts. While you may not be guilty of such conduct, that can be a difficult argument to make to a judge or jury.

While character evidence of the accused is not allowed in many cases under evidence law, a photograph posted on social media and admitted into evidence for a permissible purpose may also have aspects that would be harmful to your reputation in front of a judge or jury.

Disproving a Defense

Social media posts may destroy your alibi by placing you someplace else. You could also claim that you were sick or injured at the time in question. Such a defense could be ruined by social media posts.

Call A Chicago, IL Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

Social media use is just one aspect a criminal defense lawyer can give you counsel on. If you are accused of a federal criminal crime, you need an experienced lawyer who can give you individualized representation. Call our law firm today to speak to an accomplished Chicago, IL federal criminal defense attorney. We can be reached at 312-629-0669.



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