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Chicago IL federal criminal defense attorneyIn the 21st century, nearly everyone spends a significant amount of their lives online, and while many people do not realize it, these activities leave a digital trail that could potentially be used against them if they are facing criminal charges. Law enforcement officials may be able to access a great deal of data about a person, their contacts, the places they have visited, and their activities, and this information could be used as evidence in a criminal case. This is especially true in cases involving federal charges, since investigators and prosecutors who work for the federal government have significant resources and the power to access a great deal of information about a person that could be relevant to a case.

Types of Digital Evidence

The extent of the evidence that officials may be able to gather has been made clear as federal agencies seek to investigate and prosecute those who participated in the riots at the U.S. Capitol that took place on January 6, 2021. In these cases or other types of federal crimes, information that could be used as evidence may include:

  • Cell phone data - The smartphones that most people carry with them everywhere they go reveal a great deal of information about them. If law enforcement officials obtain a search warrant, they may be able to access everything that is stored on a person’s phone, including the calls they have made and the text messages and emails they have sent and received. However, even if officials cannot access an individual phone, they may still be able to gather phone-related data. Dumps of information from cell phone towers can be used to identify people who were in a certain location at a certain time, or GPS location data and other information captured by the apps on a phone may be made accessible to law enforcement, allowing them to track a person’s activities.


Illinois federal criminal defense lawyerEspecially if you are charged with a federal crime, you might think it will be difficult if not impossible for you to change your defense attorney when the case has already started, but the truth is that it is actually possible to do just that—and it really is not that difficult to do so either. Here is what makes it relatively easy and painless to change your criminal defense lawyer even during a federal case.

Whether a Federal Case or Not, You Can Change Your Defense Attorney

While it is true that federal cases might be prosecuted slightly differently from state cases, including in the prosecution’s methods and arguments against you, there is still the possibility that you can change your defense lawyer during the case. This might be especially beneficial to you because of how serious federal charges can often be. You are permitted to change your lawyer at any time during a case or even during a trial. The only caveat is that doing so must not put the prosecution at a disadvantage by delaying the case, thereby preventing them from getting all their witnesses to testify before the court on time, or otherwise putting the trial schedule too far behind.

This is all especially important with federal cases. Since federal cases tend to be much more serious than state cases, the prosecution tends to have a lot more complexity, details, and even witnesses involved with their arguments and cases. This means that your federal criminal defense attorney needs to be particularly “studied up” for the case, requiring a lot of preparation. If you feel that your lawyer is not adequately prepared, or that they are not handling your case effectively, it may be time to make a change.


Chicago violent crime defense attorneyIf you have been arrested on charges related to a violent crime, including assault, battery, or homicide, you could be facing serious and long-term penalties. But, what if the actions for which you were arrested were taken in self-defense or while protecting a loved one or your home? Could you still be found guilty and sentenced, or might it be possible to use the concept of “justifiable force” as a defense? The answer will depend on the specific circumstances of your situation, but it is important to understand how the law in Illinois deals with justifiable force.

When Is Force Justifiable?

A justifiable force defense is not appropriate in every case or circumstance. In order for this defense to apply, your violent actions must have been intended to defend yourself or someone else from an unlawful act, bodily, harm or death. Justifiable force might also be a viable defense if you were defending your property or that of a family member from an unlawful act, such as a break-in or attack. However, a justifiable force defense will not automatically validate your actions. There are additional details that you need to consider before attempting to use it as a defense.

Limits on Justifiable Force

To the average person, it might seem that acting in self-defense is generally accepted as a defense to many violent crime charges. However, the laws regarding self-defense vary widely. For example, the “justifiable force” doctrine in Illinois is substantially more restrictive compared to the “stand your ground” laws used in many other states. In Illinois, you cannot use a justifiable force defense if you were the original aggressor in the situation in question. The amount of force used must also be found as proportionate to the reasonably perceived threat. For example, if you had the reasonable belief that you were in danger of being killed, and the only possible way to avoid it was the use of deadly force, a justifiable force defense is likely to be appropriate. If, however, the only reasonable danger was to your property, deadly force is not likely to be considered proportionate or justifiable.


Chicago criminal defense lawyerIn recent years, the authority that police officers have over citizens has been heavily debated. Some people believe that law enforcement officers have too much authority and power while others strongly disagree. Regardless of your stance on the issue, knowing your rights during police interactions is essential. Most people have heard a Miranda warning or learned about their constitutional rights, but many do not fully understand how to assert those rights. If you are suspected of a criminal offense, knowing how to invoke your rights is essential.

The History of Miranda Warnings

When a criminal suspect is arrested or before he or she is interrogated, police are required to read the suspect the “Miranda Rights.” These rights include the right to remain silent and the right to consult with an attorney. The rights are largely based on the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution states that individuals may not be forced to be a witness against themselves. Put another way, people have the right to avoid incriminating themselves or implicating themselves in a crime. They also have the right to legal counsel.

The Miranda Rights stem from a case in which 24-year-old criminal defendant Ernesto Miranda was interrogated by police about his alleged involvement in several violent crimes. Lawyers contended that Miranda had not been informed of his right to avoid self-incrimination and speak with a lawyer before the interrogation. Although Miranda had confessed to the crimes during the interrogation, the Supreme Court ultimately ruled that his confession was inadmissible in court because he had not been informed of his rights.


Chicago IL criminal defense attorneyIn the United States, the right to own and carry a firearm is protected under the Second Amendment of the Constitution. However, there are certain acts and situations that may cause you to lose your right to own or carry a firearm. In addition, you could face criminal charges if you use a weapon to threaten someone or in the commission of another crime. A qualified criminal defense attorney can help you learn what you need to know about guns and weapons charges in the state of Illinois.

Not All Weapons Are Guns

While most weapons charges result from the illegal use or possession of a gun, not all are connected to a firearm. In fact, almost any object can become a weapon, depending on the circumstances. Examples could include everything from knives, swords, and switchblades to stun guns and brass knuckles. Use of these or any other dangerous weapons can lead to a criminal weapons charge under Illinois law.

Unlawful Use or Possession of a Weapon by a Felon

Those who have previously been convicted on felony charges are barred from using or possessing a firearm. This applies even if the felony conviction did not take place in the state of Illinois. If a felony offender ignores this ban, they are at risk of charges for unlawful use or possession of a weapon by a felon. At minimum, this is a Class 3 felony, which carries a penalty of up to ten years in prison for a first offense. A subsequent offense, or the possession of certain types of weapons, can lead to elevated charges and increased penalties.



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