Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerIf you have been arrested for a federal crime, you know what a scary thing it is. You are likely envisioning the worst possible outcome, spending years of your life in federal prison. However, this is not always the case. In the United States, there is a program that allows first offenders a chance to avoid jail time. This program cannot only eliminate the possibility of jail time altogether, but it can also help you escape the possibility of having a criminal record for your entire life.

So, what is this program? It is the Federal First Offenders Act (FFOA), and anyone charged with a federal crime needs to speak to an experienced federal criminal defense attorney that can review their case and determine if they are eligible.

The Basics of the Federal First Offenders Act

The FFOA is a probation program designed to help rehabilitate first-time offenders rather than punish them. As the name of the Act states, only those facing charges for the first time are eligible for the program. Upon entering into the program, the accused is placed on probation for a certain amount of time.

At the end of that probation period, individuals can have their charges dismissed. No conviction is entered and so, they have no criminal record. In some instances, the arrest and other details pertaining to the case are also expunged. This makes it as though the case never happened and no one can access the records of the case.

Qualifying for the Program

Unfortunately, not all first offenders are eligible for FFOA. In order to start the probation period under FFOA, a person must:

  • Be found guilty of possession of a controlled substance;
  • Not have a prior conviction for violating a federal or state law involving a controlled substance; and
  • Not been offered treatment as a first offender under any federal or state program.

In addition to these qualifications, a court must also enter an order in accordance with a rehabilitative statute under which the criminal proceedings are deferred, or tolled until a later date.

Offenses Involving a Controlled Substance

When an individual is convicted of a criminal offense involving any of the substances in the Controlled Substance Act, the courts can place them on probation for a time period of less than one year without entering a judgment. If the individual does not violate any of the conditions of their probation, the court could then release the person from probation and dismiss the proceedings and charges against the person. In instances in which the individual is under the age of 21, the courts may even expunge the individual’s record of the offense. This will remove it from public record.

It is very important that anyone entering into the FFOA program understands that if they do violate the conditions of their probation, the courts can then impose a sentence on them. When this happens, they can face the same penalties that they would have if they had not been placed on probation.

Want to Learn More About FFOA? Speak to an Illinois Federal Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a federal crime, you could be eligible for entering the FFOA program. A dedicated Chicago federal criminal defense lawyer can explain all of your options to you. At the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel, we want to help you with your case and help you achieve the best possible outcome. Call us today at 312-270-0999 or fill out our online form for your free case evaluation.


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Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyer, Illinios DNA testing attorneyMany people have seen the television advertisements for DNA testing kits that typically come from genealogy websites such as FamilyTreeDNA. However, what started as a simple curiosity may turn into something much more if the police try to obtain your DNA information from one of these databases. They have the right to do it and have even been successful in the past putting people away using this type of evidence. Critics of this practice, however, say it is a slippery slope and one that could ruin the lives of innocent people who are falsely charged with a crime.

Law Enforcement DNA Collection Techniques

It was not that long ago in 2018 when police were able to find a man connected to at least 45 rapes and 12 murders that occurred during the 1970s and 1980s. This former policeman was dubbed the Golden State Killer and his DNA was found through a public database.

In 25 other cases around the country, law enforcement used other tactics to obtain a suspect’s DNA. Many times, it was not even the suspect’s DNA they eventually tested, but that of a relative’s.

In the past, law enforcement could only obtain this evidence if the database was public. Today, however, all it takes is an agreement with the company that maintains the database. FamilyTreeDNA is one such company that allows law enforcement access to their records when it is requested.

Criticisms of DNA Collecting Practices

The biggest concern with police simply combing through DNA files any time they want, of course, is that it violates a person’s privacy. Today, people are placing an extra emphasis on their privacy because there is so little of it these days. People do not want others accessing their data in any capacity, and that includes the data held within their DNA.

The other problem with collecting DNA samples from these genetic testing companies is the possibility of samples being corrupt or tampered with. While these companies must follow regulations just as everyone else, it is impossible to tell with any kind of certainty what happened in the lab when the testing was done. One small misstep and it could tamper with potential evidence.

If the DNA samples were somehow inaccurate, it could lead to innocent people being charged with a crime and potentially even thrown behind bars. It is already difficult to sort out evidence and ensure it points to the right person. When a third party is involved, such as a genetic testing company, it only makes it that much harder.

Were You Wrongfully Accused of a Federal Crime? Contact an Illinois Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

Unfortunately, DNA is only one piece of evidence that can easily lead to wrongful accusations and worse, wrongful convictions. Do not let it get that far. If you have been wrongfully accused of a crime, you need a skilled Chicago federal criminal defense attorney. At the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel, we are passionate about standing up for the rights of the wrongfully accused and building strong defenses to help them beat the charges. If you have a legal issue, call us today at (312) 270-0999 for your free consultation and learn more about how we can help.


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Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerThere are many types of fraud that are classified as federal offenses. Many of these types of fraud are self-explanatory. Mail fraud indicates fraud that used the U.S. Postal Service to carry out the act. Wire fraud uses electronics such as email or the Internet to commit fraud. Securities fraud sometimes has people questioning what it really means, particularly if they’ve been accused of it. So, what is securities fraud? Perhaps more importantly, if you’ve been charged, what penalties are you facing?

Security Fraud Defined

The term “security” is a broad term that refers to a number of different investments. Municipal bonds, corporate stocks, bank notes, and investment contracts are all considered securities. Therefore, securities fraud occurs when one person lies, cheats, steals, or deceits someone for financial gain involving a security.

Securities fraud is generally considered a white-collar crime. Although there are federal laws on the topic, states also have their own statutes pertaining to securities fraud. Most cases, however, are tried as a federal crime. The two main federal statutes involved in a securities fraud case are the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

Types of Securities Fraud

Securities fraud can occur in a number of ways. Some ways though, are more common than others. The most common types are:

  • Misrepresentations. Securities depend on someone’s ability to predict how a security will perform in the future. When someone lies or makes false statements about how a security will perform, it is often considered securities fraud. For example, if a stockbroker made a commercial claiming that a stock was going to perform very well when they didn’t know that as fact, just to increase the sale of that stock, it is considered securities fraud.
  • Insider Trading. Insider trading is the opposite of misrepresentations. When a person is associated with a company involved in securities, such as one that is on the stock market, leaks insider information that isn’t available to the public, this is considered insider trading. If the information is not publicly available, those in the company are not allowed to release that information. Those in a company are not legally allowed to release confidential information that could affect the securities related to that company.
  • Churning. The act of churning involves pressuring one person to invest an excessive amount of money into one security, for the sole purpose of the broker making more money off fees and commissions. This is also securities fraud.

Penalties for Securities Fraud

In the United States, securities fraud is taken very seriously. A conviction may result in a maximum of five years in a federal prison or fines between $10,000 and $5 million. In addition, most convictions will include a sentence that the defendant must pay restitution to any victim including investors, employees, and clients.

In addition to this, victims of securities fraud may also file a civil lawsuit against the defendant. While a sentence during a criminal trial may require that restitution is paid, this is typically only for the amount defrauded. A civil lawsuit can provide for other damages, as well.

Have You Been Charged with Federal Fraud? Contact an Illinois Federal Criminal Defense Attorney

Any type of federal crime is extremely serious. Anyone convicted needs the help of a skilled Chicago federal criminal defense attorney. If you have been charged with securities fraud or any other federal crime, contact the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel at 312-270-0999. We will fight for your rights and help you build a solid defense so you have a better chance of retaining your freedom. Call us today or fill out our online form for your free consultation.


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Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyer, Illinois money laundering lawyerFor Lori Loughlin, her husband, and several others involved in the college admissions scandal, the news only gets worse. Now, these defendants and several others have been charged with money laundering in addition to the charges they were already facing. As something that is often only seen on television and in gangster movies, the news has some wondering what the crime of money laundering really involves.

What Is Money Laundering?

Money laundering in its simplest form is taking money from one source and placing it into another to make it appear legitimate. The purpose is to hide money obtained from illegal activity, such as gang activity, and make it appear as though it was obtained through legal means. Moving this money is essentially “cleaning” it, which is where money laundering got its name.

One of the most common money laundering schemes involves setting up a business known as a “shell company”. This business will then deposit the money obtained illegally and create false receipts and invoices indicating the money was obtained legally. The shell company is really just a front for the money laundering scheme, although some shell companies also operate as a legitimate business, as well.

The Money Laundering Control Act

The Money Laundering Control Act of 1986 made money laundering in the United States a federal crime. This statute deals with the proceeds derived from certain illegal acts, including RICO offenses, human trafficking, and certain types of fraud, to name just a few.

In order for someone to be found guilty of money laundering, the prosecution must prove that the defendant had knowledge that the funds came from illegal activity. Simply transferring “dirty” money without any knowledge of where it came from is not enough for money laundering charges to apply.

In addition to this element of proof, the prosecution must also prove the defendant had specific intentions for the dirty money. In order to prove this, the prosecution must also prove that the defendant intended:

  • To carry on with the illegal activity;
  • To commit tax fraud or tax evasion;
  • To conceal the illegal nature of the money’s source; or
  • To avoid reporting transactions as required by state or federal law.

Penalties for Money Laundering

Money laundering is a very serious federal crime. The penalties for those convicted include up to 20 years in federal prison, and a fine of $500,000 or twice the property value involved, whichever is greater. The actual sentencing determined by a judge will take into consideration the amount of money involved.

Facing Federal Charges? Speak to a Federal Criminal Defense Attorney in Illinois

Money laundering, like any other federal crime, has very harsh penalties, but there are defenses available for those charged. An experienced Chicago federal criminal defense lawyer can fully explain what they are, and which one may apply to your case. If you have been charged with money laundering or any other federal crime, it is natural to feel helpless. However, you are not. At the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel, we want to help you. Call us today at 312-270-0999 or fill out our online form for your free consultation. We will discuss your rights and build you a strong defense to help you retain your freedom. Do not face these charges alone. Contact us today so we can begin reviewing your case.


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