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Chicago Criminal Defense AttorneyAlmost every adult in America uses search engines every day. For most of us, our search histories remain private forever - something we typically are grateful for, considering the inherent privacy most of us would prefer when asking all those questions that randomly come to mind. While we can generally feel secure that our searches are done anonymously, certain keywords and phrases can trigger the attention of federal law enforcement. Even a search done out of pure curiosity with no ill intentions may trigger an internet crimes investigation, and curiosity alone may not be a sufficient criminal defense. If you have law enforcement asking questions about your online behavior, contact a criminal defense attorney right away. 

Is the FBI Monitoring Civilian Search Histories? 

The FBI and other law enforcement organizations usually have no interest in what you might be looking up online. But if you are consistently looking up words, instructional materials, or other suspicious search terms that may indicate interest in criminal behavior, you may end up on a government watchlist. 

Furthermore, if you are charged with a crime, your search history may be used to show intent. It is important to be careful about what you are searching and to be aware that even when you are using someone else’s computer or searching on a public computer, like at a library, your search terms can still be linked back to you. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_chicago-federal-crimes-attorney_20220628-215547_1.jpgNow that the Johnny Depp versus Amber Heard verdict has been handed down by the court, many people have asked the same question: Did Amber Heard commit perjury? Many people use terms like “lying under oath,” and “perjury,” but few understand exactly what they mean. Perjury is a federal criminal offense prohibited by multiple federal statutes. Anyone accused of perjury or another federal offense should contact a federal criminal defense attorney right away to get legal advice for their particular situation.

Swearing to Tell the Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth

Individuals who provide testimony in court are required to “tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” Being sworn in binds a person to honesty. Telling a lie on the witness stand is not like lying elsewhere. Lying under oath is a serious criminal offense because it undermines the justice system.

Lying or making false statements in court is not always perjury. Perjury occurs when a lie is told while under oath. Furthermore, perjury only includes false statements. Refusing to answer a question or remaining silent is not perjury. You cannot face perjury charges because of something you did not say. However, refusing to provide information or answer a question may potentially lead to contempt of court charges or other adverse consequences.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_chicago-federal-crimes-attorney.jpgFederal criminal offenses are generally considered to be more severe than state-level offenses. The penalties for federal crimes are often severe, involving years or even decades in prison. If you have received a subpoena from a grand jury, you may understandably feel confused and panicked. You may be unsure of what this means and how you should respond.

If you have received a grand jury subpoena, it means that the federal government believes that you have information related to a federal criminal case. It is very important to understand your rights and obligations in this situation. It is even more important to retain a skilled federal criminal defense lawyer who can advocate on your behalf and give you the personalized legal guidance you need.

Types of Grand Jury Subpoenas

Grand jury subpoenas are legal tools used by the government to gather evidence during the investigation or prosecution of a crime.

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Chicago high-profile criminal case lawyerGetting arrested is embarrassing enough if only one or two people know about it. When the news of your arrest ends up in the local paper - or worse - you will have to start taking important precautions to protect yourself and your family. Depending on the nature of the crime you are charged with, and whether there was any significant local impact, you may face serious backlash that will impact every aspect of your life. You may also feel pressure to speak up publicly in your own defense, but this is rarely a good idea. The first thing you need to do is find a lawyer who is experienced at managing media attention during a high-profile case

What Should I Do if I See My Case in the News?

You might be feeling a strong desire to try to publicly clear your name or explain yourself. This almost never improves the situation, and it is very likely to do the opposite. Always follow your attorney’s specific advice, but some general advice can include: 

  • Do not post - Tweeting, posting a video, or even making a Facebook post to your friends about what happened (or did not happen) should be avoided unless your lawyer tells you otherwise. Your post is very likely to get picked up by the media that initially reported on your case. 
  • Be patient - Unless you are a major celebrity or all over the major news networks, the odds that the media is going to keep covering your story are low. It is more likely that after the initial story is reported, there will be little follow-up. The public has a short attention span, so your case is likely to “blow over.” 
  • Maintain a low profile - Try not to draw attention to yourself for the time being. If you do anything the media is likely to find “interesting,” it will only encourage them to keep covering your case. 
  • No comment - Avoid talking directly to the media. If something needs to be said, let your lawyer say it for you. It is easy for the press to twist your words or use dramatic sound bites to try to make you look guilty even if you are not. 
  • Be safe - If you are facing significant backlash from your community to the point that you feel unsafe, take precautions. If there are angry people gathering by your home, consider staying elsewhere until the situation calms down. Consider getting a door alarm or security cameras.

One of the most important things you can do is to contact a lawyer, sooner rather than later. There are other steps an experienced attorney can take to help protect you. 

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Posted by on in Criminal Defense

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. 

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