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Hal Garfinkel is retained as the defendant's lawyer in the Chicago high profile murder case of Marlen Ochoa-Lopez. Read more...

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.

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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.

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Chicago federal crime defense attorneyIn the first few weeks of his administration, President Joe Biden has taken a number of steps toward keeping promises that he made on the campaign trail. To date, President Biden has signed more than two dozen executive orders, already approaching Franklin Roosevelt’s record of 30 executive orders in the first month of his administration. The president’s efforts of late have been directed toward social and racial justice concerns, including a noteworthy executive order that will phase out the use of private federal prisons by the Department of Justice.

Changing the “Whole Approach”

Last Tuesday, President Biden issued an executive order that directs the Attorney General and the Department of Justice to end their association with privately run, for-profit prisons. As part of the order’s directives, existing contracts with private prisons will continue to be honored, but the Attorney General has been instructed not to renew such contracts when they expire.

In his remarks prior to signing the order, President Biden emphasized his belief that the federal government must change “its whole approach” to issues of racial justice and social inequities, including in the criminal justice system. Biden added, “I firmly believe the nation is ready to change. But government has to change as well.”

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Chicago federal perjury defense attorney

Most people have at least heard of perjury, and you probably realize that being accused of perjury is a serious matter. You might know that perjury means lying under oath, but did you know that it is a federal crime? There are a number of federal statutes that address and criminalize perjury and related false statements, but two, in particular, are used most often to prosecute perjury. Section 1621 of Title 18 of the United States Code is commonly used to prosecute perjury before administrative, legislative, and judicial bodies, while Section 1623 of Title 18 addresses false statements made before grand juries and federal courts.

While there are differences between these two statutes and their applicability, the overall definition of perjury remains largely the same. It may seem like a simple definition, but prosecutors must prove several distinct elements to obtain a conviction on perjury charges.

Perjury Can Only Occur Under Oath

Making false statements is not always perjury. In order for a false statement to constitute perjury, it must be made under oath. For example, if you are being questioned by the police and you make a statement that is not true, you cannot be found guilty of perjury because you did not swear an oath to tell the truth. To be considered “under oath,” a person must make a promise to give honest testimony, and the promise must be made before a person with the proper authority to administer such an oath, including an officer of the court.

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Chicago federal crime pardon attorneyIn the last few days of his presidency, President Donald Trump issued more than 140 pardons and commutations to individuals throughout the country. The list of those who received executive clemency includes high-profile musical artists, criminal justice activists, and people who were serving long prison sentences for relatively low-level federal offenses. But, where does the president get the authority to issue presidential pardons, and are there limits on who can receive executive clemency?

Pardons in the U.S. Constitution

Article II of the U.S. Constitution addresses the executive branch of the United States government, namely, the office of President of the United States of America. In Section 2 of Article II, the Constitution states that the president “shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences [sic] against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” In short, this means the president has the authority to grant clemency to any individual who has been convicted of, or who is or might be under investigation for, a federal crime unless the individual in question is facing impeachment from public office.

The Constitution does not offer much more in the way of guidance or limitations regarding presidential pardons. However, the Department of Justice has set up a system through which petitions for executive clemency can be submitted and passed on to the president for consideration.

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