b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_665886625-min.jpg“Asset forfeiture” allows the federal government to seize property linked to a crime. This can include both the tools used to commit a crime and the proceeds. Civil forfeiture and criminal forfeiture effectively accomplish the same goals, but criminal forfeiture is contingent on a conviction. As part of sentencing, the court may order the defendant to forfeit certain assets believed to be related to the crime. If you are facing federal charges, you are likely at risk of having your property seized. There are steps an attorney can take to help prevent this, so it is best to get in contact with one as soon as you learn you are being charged. 

What Assets Can Be Seized in Criminal Forfeiture?

The goal behind criminal asset forfeiture is to disrupt criminal operations by confiscating the tools of the trade or by seizing their profits. The other purpose is to discourage crime - if you get caught, you lose your illicit earnings. If you are convicted of a federal crime, the government could take anything that it proves by a preponderance of the evidence represents the proceeds of a crime. 

This includes not just money it believes you earned from the crime, but also anything you have purchased with that money. Anything from your house to your bank account could be forfeited after a conviction. Criminal forfeiture is, however, limited in scope to only include assets related to the crime you are being sentenced for. So if you are being sentenced for bank fraud, criminal forfeiture would not reach money the government suspects you earned as a small-time drug dealer. 


chicago criminal defense lawyerCrime is increasingly committed over the internet. Especially during the pandemic, more and more white-collar criminals are turning to forms of fraud or theft that can be carried out online. One unfortunate side effect is that it is also increasingly easy to inadvertently stumble into illegal activity on the web, often out of naivete. The FBI has recently stepped up its enforcement of internet crimes, making internet-based prosecutions increasingly common. If you are facing federal prosecution for any internet-based crime, it is important that you take the charges very seriously and immediately get in contact with a criminal defense attorney. 

What Federal Internet Crimes Are Most Common?

Crimes like theft, which used to require an in-person action, can now be done from the comfort of one’s own desk. This has moved the FBI’s battle against crime from the field to the internet. For an unlucky few, this can lead to unreasonable charges for an unintentional online misstep. Some common federal internet crimes are: 

  • Fraud - Bank fraud, mortgage fraud, and credit card fraud are often committed online these days. A lot of financial paperwork is now done via an app or website, increasing opportunities for cybercriminals to be dishonest. 

Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerToo often, people are charged with a federal offense, such as tax evasion or drug trafficking, and they quickly hire a lawyer that was recommended to them, or that they heard about from an advertisement. As the case progresses, the lawyer’s shortcomings become quite evident and the accused individual starts to lose trust in their attorney. In these instances, people often want to change their lawyers, but wonder if they are allowed to under the law. This is just one question that arises when people want to change lawyers. Below are other frequently asked questions about hiring a new attorney, and the answers to them. Am I Allowed to Switch Lawyers During My Case? The Constitution of the United States provides all Americans the right to have an attorney of their choosing represent them during their case. As such, you can change lawyers nearly any time you would like. However, there are times when a judge will not allow you to change lawyers, such as right before your trial begins if the judge feels it would not serve justice and the change would only delay the case. How Do I Know if I Should Change Lawyers? The answer to this question is largely subjective because it relies on how you feel about your attorney. Do you feel as though your lawyer does not have the skillset your case requires? Do you speak more to your lawyer’s paralegals and secretaries than you do your attorney? Have you lost trust that your lawyer is working in your best interests? All of these are signs that you should change lawyers but generally speaking, any time you are not comfortable with your lawyer, it might be time to seek a second opinion. How Do I Know that a Lawyer is Better than My Current One? The most important thing to ask a potential new lawyer about is their experience. Ask how many cases they have handled that are similar to yours, and about the outcomes, they achieved in those cases. This will tell you if the lawyer can handle your case, and will ensure they are familiar with the law regarding your case. Do I Have to Tell My Old Lawyer that I Chose a New One? You should never sever ties with your current attorney until you have spoken to a new one. Once you start working with your new lawyer, they can draft a letter informing your current lawyer of the change and ask that they transfer your case file to you, or to your new attorney. Need a Second Opinion? Our Chicago Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

Changing lawyers in the middle of your case is certainly not ideal, but sometimes it is necessary. If you feel as though your current lawyer is not the right one for the job, our skilled Chicago federal criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel can help. Attorney Garfinkel is well-versed in all areas of federal law and can answer all your questions about switching lawyers. When you need a second opinion, call us at 312-629-0669 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help.


Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal justice system, Illinois criminal lawyer,If you have been charged with a federal crime - or even if you believe you are suspected of a crime -- your next step should be to meet with an Illinois criminal attorney. Your attorney is your advocate in court, so you will want your first meeting to be productive and set the right tone for the entire attorney-client relationship.

Preparing for your initial meeting with an attorney will not only set you up for success, but it could also help you minimize costs. Here are five things you can gather to prepare for your first criminal attorney meeting:

  1. Your personal information. You may be asked for your contact information, birth date, employment information, and next of kin information. Depending on the type of case, your attorney may also need your driver’s license number, license plate number and Social Security number.
  2. A narrative of what happened. Writing down your recollection of the events leading up to the situation is a critical step in the preparation of your case with your attorney. You do not have to state if you committed any crimes. Think about how you would explain what happened to someone who had no knowledge of the situation. You should be as detailed as possible. You may not need to show this document to your attorney, but getting your thoughts organized will help you.
  3. Police and court documentation plus other evidence. Any documents you have received from the police or court should be brought to your attorney. Such documents include: police reports, warrants, indictments, search warrants and court filings. These documents are important for the attorney as he will be able to see something about the strength of the case against you by reviewing them. Also, any other evidence you have or can obtain is often helpful. This could include photos of the crime scene area, screenshots of text messages of social media posts, security camera footage and receipts. In many instances, security camera footage is taped over quickly, so getting a copy of the footage while it exists can be crucial.
  4. Your goals for the representation. You should also have an idea about what you want to get out of your representation. Some clients want to maintain their innocence and go to trial. Others want our firm’s assistance in a plea deal.
  5. Questions for your attorney. Writing down a list of questions for our attorney can make your meeting more productive. You may be curious to know if our firm has represented people charged with similar crimes. You may want to know about our attorney’s experience with plea bargains. Other common questions relate to fees and billing.

Contact a Chicago, IL Criminal Defense Attorney


arrests in Illinois, Chicago Criminal Defense AttorneyWhile most law-abiding citizens do not ever intend on being arrested, unfortunate situations do sometimes arise that lead to an arrest. Whether you participate in criminal activity or not, it is vital for you to understand the arrest process in Illinois, your rights, and how to handle yourself.

The state of Illinois has an arrest procedure that must be followed by any police officer or law enforcement agent, and failure to follow each step of this procedure could lead to your immediate release. Therefore, understanding your rights and how the process works is crucial. If you are an Illinois citizen, here is what you need to know about being arrested.

Who Can Arrest Me?

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