falsifying-documentsRecently, two men connected to a well-known attorney were charged with many offenses after it was found that they were trying to leave the country. One of these crimes was falsifying records to obstruct an investigation. This currently has people around the country wondering what the penalties are for this crime, and what exactly the offense entails.

What is Falsifying Records?

Under federal law, it is a crime to destroy, alter, or falsify records in connection with a federal investigation. It is also a crime to commit any of these acts with records during bankruptcy proceedings. Altering documents in regards to an audit is also an offense that could have someone facing federal prosecution. Taking public records and hiding them, or walking away with them, is also considered falsifying records. Before securing a conviction though, there are certain things the prosecution must prove. If they can, those charged face very harsh penalties.

What Does the Prosecution have to Prove?

Falsifying public records is considered a specific intent crime. This means that in order to obtain a conviction, the prosecution must prove that the defendant acted intentionally. This means that the defendant must have known that the act was against the law. In some instances, the federal prosecution may also have to show that the defendant knew the documents they were destroying or altering were public records.

One area of intent the prosecution does not have to prove is that the defendant meant to obstruct justice or interfere with a federal investigation. They must only prove that the defendant’s actions did in fact, obstruct justice.

Penalties for Falsifying Records

Individuals that destroy, alter, or falsify records to interfere with a federal investigation or bankruptcy proceedings face up to 20 years in federal prison.

Individuals that are responsible for managing and controlling public records that in any way alter them also face serious penalties. This offense can result in up to three years in federal prison and a $2,000 fine. They may also have to forfeit their office, and will likely be disqualified from holding any government office in the future.

Stealing, falsifying, or altering court records is punishable by up to five years in federal prison. So is stealing, using, or attempting to use a public record that relates to a claim made against the United States government in order to secure compensation.

Are You Facing Federal Charges? Call Our Illinois Federal Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing federal charges of any kind, it is important to speak to a skilled Chicago federal criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel, we know how to successfully defend against federal charges so you have the best chance of a successful outcome. Call us today at 312- 270-0999 for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help.



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Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerFederal firearm laws are complicated and carry harsh penalties. These laws are not only complex, but they also provide federal prosecutors with an immense arsenal of weapons when prosecuting those accused. This has resulted in a huge increase in prosecutions under the federal laws on firearms. Due to the fact that these prosecutions have become more prevalent, it is essential that everyone understands the law, so they do not find themselves under federal investigation. Below are three of the most common charges prosecutors pursue.

Selling Guns Illegally

There are multiple federal firearm laws pertaining to the sale of firearms, including licensing requirements and restrictions on transporting certain weapons across state lines. Under 18 U.S.C. Section 922(a), it is against the law to sell guns across state lines without a valid license. Selling firearms without any type of license carries a five-year sentence in federal prison for those convicted.

It is not only unlicensed dealers that can find themselves facing charges for selling firearms, though. Under 18 U.S.C. Section 922 (b), it is illegal to:

  • Sell firearms to individuals that do not meet the minimum age requirements for those weapons.
  • Sell firearms to a person that does not live in the same state as the firearms dealer.
  • Sell firearms to anyone prohibited from owning a firearm under state or federal law.

When a dealer illegally sells firearms, they can face between five to ten years in federal prison.

Making False Statements when Purchasing a Firearm

Just as gun dealers must be careful, so too must gun buyers. There is a lot of paperwork required when purchasing a firearm. Those purchasing the firearm must also answer all questions honestly and not misrepresent themselves to the dealer or to the government. When a person makes dishonest or misleading statements, they can face up to ten years in federal prison.

Straw purchasers also fall into this category. These buyers are not purchasing weapons for themselves, instead, they are buying firearms for a person that is not legally allowed to own a gun. Straw purchases carry sentences of up to ten years in federal prison.

Using or Carrying Firearms While Committing a Crime

Federal law is particularly harsh on individuals that carry or use guns while committing other crimes. Under 18 U.S.C. Section 924 (c), it is illegal to carry or use a firearm while committing a crime of violence or participating in drug trafficking. The sentences for this crime range from between five years to 30 years in federal prison, depending on how the firearm was used during the crime. Those charged with this crime usually face additional charges for the original crime being committed.

Facing Firearm Charges? Call Our Illinois Federal Criminal Defense Attorney

While the three firearm charges above are some of the most common, there are many other federal prosecutors aggressively pursue. If you have been charged with a firearms offense, you need a skilled Chicago federal criminal defense attorney that is just as aggressive as the prosecution. At the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel, our attorney has the experience necessary to know how to defend against these charges and give you the best chance of success in court. Call us today at 312-270-0999 for your free consultation to learn more about how we can help.




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Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerIf you have been convicted of a federal crime such as embezzlement or a violation of The Controlled Substances Act, the next process you will face is sentencing. What happens during sentencing is incredibly important, as that is when the judge will tell you how much time you will serve in jail, or if you will serve any at all. There is a period of time between the conviction and when you receive your sentencing, and it is important to understand what will happen during that time. Below is an outline of the procedure that will take place before you appear for your sentencing hearing.

The Pre-Sentence Report

After your conviction, a probation officer will interview you. During this interview, they will ask about your family history, social history, education background, financial situation, and other various details about your life. They will then write a pre-sentence report.

Once the pre-sentence report is created, it is sent to the judge, the prosecutor, and your defense lawyer. After receiving it, you will have an opportunity to object to anything that is contained within the report. There are both big and small objections. A federal criminal defense attorney can advise on which objections are most important to make.

The Sentencing Memorandum

The sentencing memorandum is a very important document that you and your defense attorney will prepare together. It will include character statements from your family and friends outlining your most positive attributes. These statements will outline volunteer work you have done in the community if you are devoted to your family, if you are active in a church, and anything else that will highlight the fact that you are of good character.

These statements are meant to refute the allegations made against you. They typically also provide reasons why you should receive the lowest possible sentence.

The Sentencing Hearing

Once a judge has reviewed both the pre-sentence report and the sentencing memorandum, a sentencing hearing is scheduled. This is where you will hear the sentence the judge has decided to give you.

Before that happens though, the judge will also listen to arguments from your defense attorney. Your lawyer will make legal arguments, refute the statements made by the prosecution, and ask the judge for a low sentence. The judge will also listen to the prosecutor, who will undoubtedly make statements about why you deserve a harsher sentence. Lastly, the judge will hear from you. This is your chance to show remorse, state your innocence, or show the judge that you are just a good person in a bad situation.

After listening to these arguments, a judge will state their decision.

Have You Been Convicted of a Federal Crime? Call Our Illinois Federal Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one has been convicted of a federal offense, you are likely very concerned about the future. At the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel, our skilled Chicago federal defense attorney knows a conviction is not the end of the road, and it is possible to appeal. If you have not yet been convicted of a crime, but are facing charges, Hal Garfinkel also has the necessary experience to give you the best possible chance of beating those charges and retaining your freedom. If you have been accused of a federal crime, call us today at 312-270-0999 for your free consultation.



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convictionBeing convicted of a federal crime such as bankruptcy fraud or embezzlement is a scary thing. Upon hearing the conviction, accused individuals wonder what they are going to do, and what comes next. They may consider filing an appeal, but this is not the only recourse a person has. There are several options other than an appeal and, with the right federal criminal defense attorney, a conviction does not always mean the case is closed. Below are some of the common options sought by those that have been convicted.


Often, an appeal is the first thing a person considers after a conviction. This can be done when a lower court made a mistake deciding, or interpreting, the legal statutes involved with a case. There are many common bases for appeals including:

  • Fourth Amendment violations
  • Incompetent legal representation
  • Evidence was withheld that would have exonerated the defendant
  • Sentencing was overly harsh
  • Evidence that was improperly obtained was used to convict the defendant

Habeas Corpus

Habeas corpus is a writ that allows a defendant to argue before the court that their detention or imprisonment is unlawful. These motions are extremely complex so it is important those convicted work with a federal criminal defense attorney that has experience with them.

Certificate of Rehabilitation

In some cases, a person convicted of a federal crime can obtain a certificate of rehabilitation declaring that the person has been rehabilitated. This option is a good choice for those that want to clean up their criminal record and who have already had a conviction dismissed or expunged.


Although rare, it is sometimes possible to get a conviction pardoned. This does not mean that the person is innocent, but that the person now accepts responsibility for the offense.

Sentence Modifications

Sentence modifications are also fairly rare, as they are only available in a limited number of situations. These include:

  • When a mistake was made during sentencing
  • The defendant is now providing prosecutors with information about another offense
  • The defendant has a terminal illness that will make them unable to serve the sentence

Sentence modifications are available following a conviction or during a trial.

Rule 37

Under Rule 37, the defendant petitions the court stating their attorney at the original trial was inefficient or made a mistake that resulted in the person’s conviction. For example, if the attorney knew of admissible evidence that would exonerate the client and did not introduce it, that could be cause for a defendant to file a petition.

Contact an Attorney Today for Help

Being convicted of a federal crime is scary, and frustrating. However, it is not always the end. Even after conviction, you have many options. To be successful in pursuing them, you must speak to a skilled Chicago federal criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel, we will examine your case, and how it was handled at trial, to determine if post-conviction option is right for you. We will advise on the action to take, and help you through it every step of the way. If you have been convicted, call us today at 312-270-0999 to learn more about your next steps.



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