Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerIn many scenarios when someone has been charged with a crime, they have the hope of a plea bargain, particularly if the prosecution has built a strong case against them. Many people understand the concept of plea bargains, largely due to the fact that television shows and movies often include them within the plot of the story. When faced with a criminal trial, though, people are prone to wonder if the prosecution will offer a plea bargain and, if so, whether or not they should accept one.

Although plea bargains are quite common in state courts, they are typically rarely offered in federal court, for many reasons. If offered one, it is in the accused’s best interests to work with a federal criminal defense lawyer that can determine if the plea bargain is in their best interests.

Advantages of Plea Bargains

Plea bargains are an agreement between the prosecution and the individual accused of a crime. Plea bargains involve the defendant pleading guilty to a lesser crime in exchange for a lighter sentence. It is easy to assume that plea bargains only hold advantages for the defendant because their sentence is not as harsh. However, they also hold benefits for the court. By offering a plea bargain, the court will not have to hold a trial, which takes time and uses the court’s valuable resources. When a plea bargain deal is accepted, the accused does not have to stand trial.

Plea Bargains in Federal Criminal Cases

The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure do allow for plea bargains in federal criminal trials, as per 18 USC Chapter 221. Still, plea bargains are rarely offered in federal cases because federal prosecutors do not have as much leeway in offering them as prosecutors do in state criminal court. The first reason for this is that some federal statutes strictly prohibit offering a plea bargain for certain offenses.

Another reason plea bargains are rare in federal cases is due to the fact that the Federal Sentencing Guidelines have minimum sentences for certain crimes. As such, a judge must hand down at least that minimum to an individual that is convicted of a crime. The prosecution cannot offer a plea bargain that includes a sentence lighter than any given minimum sentence.

Even when a plea bargain is offered, the policy of the Justice Department states that the plea bargain must accurately and honestly reflect the conduct of the defendant. As such, federal prosecutors have few choices when creating a plea bargain deal that is fair, but still offers a lighter sentence.

Our Illinois Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Can Advise on a Plea Bargain

Many defendants become excited at the thought of a plea bargain because it offers them a chance at a lighter sentence. As hopeful as it may seem, it is crucial to work with a skilled Chicago federal criminal defense lawyer that can advise on whether a plea bargain deal is fair. If you have been charged with a federal crime, our attorney at the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel can help. Attorney Garfinkel understands the federal criminal justice system and will help you navigate it to give you the best chance of success. Call us today at 312-270-0999 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation so we can discuss your case.


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Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerFirst, there was the term ‘photobombing,’ and now there is a new phrase floating around called ‘Zoom bombing,’ While hackers, like those that intrude into photos when they are not welcome, may think that these hijinks are funny, they are actually a crime. And because it involves computer technology, it is considered a federal offense. These crimes come with serious penalties and could have lifelong impacts on those convicted.

What Is Zoom?

Zoom is a cloud-based video service that allows you to meet virtually with other people. Like Skype and FaceTime, it allows people to talk to each other while also being able to see them. When using Zoom, a person can make conference calls in which several people can be included in the conversation and see each other all at once. Many people that work at home use Zoom, as it does not require physically being in the same location. In 2019, however, over 50 percent of Fortune 500 companies reportedly used the platform.

What Is Zoom Bombing?

Like photo bombing, Zoom bombing involves an unknown third party barging into the conversation. The individuals that were originally part of the video conference may not even realize that someone else is listening in. Sometimes, the tactics Zoom bombers use are relatively harmless, such as scribbling all over the screen. Other times, a Zoom bomber’s actions may be more malicious. They may show inappropriate materials, such as pornography, or they may shout racial slurs.

Although Zoom bombing has gotten a lot of attention lately, it does not only happen on that platform. Microsoft Groups has also had its share of conference bombing, and Skype has also had problems with hackers. When this happens, it is important to know that even if offensive materials are not being shown, individuals could still be charged with a federal offense.

Penalties for Zoom Bombing

According to USC 18 part 1030 of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Zoom bombing, or any type of hacking, is a federal offense. The penalties associated with this crime are severe. A person convicted of hacking could face up to ten years in federal prison, depending on the facts of the case. When the crime is considered a misdemeanor, individuals may also face a maximum fine of $100,000, while convictions for a felony offense carry a maximum fine of $250,000.

Sometimes, hackers do not only intrude on a conversation. Due to the fact that the other parties are not always aware of the hacker’s presence, they can listen in on conversations and use any information they learn to blackmail a person. When this is the case, individuals may face additional charges with penalties that are just as harsh.

Our Illinois Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer Is Here to Help

Not every one that Zoom bombs has malicious intentions, but that is not a defense for those facing charges. If you have been charged with this federal offense, call our skilled Chicago federal criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel. Attorney Garfinkel knows how to defend against hacking charges and will do so to give you the best chance of beating the charges. When you need experienced legal help on your side, call us at 312-270-0999 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation.


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Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerMany people have heard the term contempt of court, whether on a television show, movie, or perhaps even in real life. While this term is often used in state court, many people also do not understand that this offense can be considered a federal crime. In fact, the federal statutes have many pieces of law pertaining to contempt of court, and they can all become complex. It is for this reason that, if you are facing contempt of court charges, you must work with a criminal defense attorney that is familiar with federal offenses, and knows how to defend against them.

18 U.S. Code, Chapter 21

All of the United States’ statutes dealing with contempt of court are found in 18 U.S. Code, Chapter 21. This chapter is broken down into several sections regarding different aspects of contempt of court. Section 401 within this chapter deals with the power of the court, while Section 402 outlines when contempt constitutes a criminal offense. Lastly, Section 403 of 18 U.S. Code, Chapter 21 specifically deals with protecting the privacy of child victims and witnesses to a crime that are children.

18 U.S. Code, Section 401

Section 401 of this chapter of the federal criminal code authorizes a federal court to punish a person when they misbehave in a court, or in close enough proximity to a court that it obstructs the administration of justice. Under this section of code, federal courts also have the authority to punish a court officer if they misbehave while performing any of their official transactions. Lastly, the court can also punish the disobedience of any processes, rules, orders, lawful writs, commands, or decrees.

When the court finds that anyone is in contempt of court in these situations, the court may impose a fine or prison sentence.

18 U.S. Code, Section 402

Section 402 of this chapter of code outlines when contempt of court constitutes a federal offense punishable by fines or imprisonment. This section outlines that it is a federal offense for any person, corporation, or association to willfully disobey a lawful process, rule, writ, command or decree of the U.S. District Court of the United States, or a D.C. court by engaging in a prohibited act when that act constitutes a criminal offense.

18 U.S. Code, Section 403

18 U.S. Code, Section 403 is unique from the other sections of Chapter 21 because it also deals with another piece of legislation. This section states that when a person violates the laws in Section 3509, they can be charged with contempt of court. Section 3509 is meant to protect the privacy of minors when they have witnessed a crime or were the victim of a crime. Under Section 3509, the penalty for individuals convicted under this statute can face up to one year in prison, as well as a fine.

Our Chicago Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer can Help with Your Charges

When hearing ‘contempt of court,’ many people do not think it is a serious crime, but that is not true. Under any section of federal law, this offense can carry high fines and even imprisonment for those convicted. If you have been charged with contempt of court, call our skilled Chicago federal criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel today. Attorney Garfinkel knows the valid defenses to use in these cases, and he will use them effectively to help you beat your charges, or get them reduced for a lesser sentence. Call him today at 312-270-0999 or contact him online to arrange a free consultation.


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Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerFacing federal charges is a very upsetting and confusing thing. You may not know why you are being accused of the offense, and you are likely very stressed out about your future. All of these are very natural reactions, but they can lead people to take the wrong types of action. These actions can be very detrimental to a case, and even cost a person their future. If you have been charged with a federal crime, it is important to know what the most common mistakes made are, so you can avoid making them yourself.

Taking Your Case to Social Media

When people are arrested for a federal crime,  they are read the Miranda warning, which tells them that anything they say, “can and will be used against them in a court of law.” Many people think this only applies to speaking to the police, but it does not. Anything you say regarding the case can be used against you, even when it is said on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platforms. As such, you should stay off social media completely or, at the very least, refrain from posting to it.

Speaking to the Police

Unfortunately, not everyone realizes that they do not have to talk to the police, particularly prior to being read their rights. It is crucial that you never tell the police anything that may incriminate yourself or make you appear guilty. This is a right guaranteed to people by the Fifth Amendment. Many people think that pleading the Fifth will make them look guilty, but it does not. It simply shows that you know your rights and that you know how to exercise them.

Not Paying Attention to Your Appearance in Court

It is a huge mistake to think that a judge will not make a decision about you based on your appearance. If you show up dirty, disheveled, or wearing ripped or torn clothing, the judge will likely determine that you do not respect the court and will treat you in the same manner. Always tend to your appearance, dress for the occasion, and show the judge that you are a responsible person.

Representing Yourself

Many times people think they can represent themselves in their criminal case and not use the help of an attorney. Although this is never a good idea, it is even worse when you are facing federal charges. The federal criminal justice system is a complicated one with many more procedural rules than the state criminal justice system. Additionally, even though your powers of persuasion may be enough to win arguments with friends and family, it will not be enough for a judge and jury. Always speak to an attorney that understands the law and how to use it to give you the best chance of a positive outcome.

Call Our Illinois Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

When you are facing federal charges, you should never try to represent yourself. At the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel, our skilled Chicago federal criminal defense lawyer can help. Attorney Garfinkel understands the law, and he will use that knowledge to help get your charges reduced, or dismissed altogether. Call us today at 312-270-0999 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation with our attorney.


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