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b2ap3_thumbnail_chicago-federal-crimes-attorney_20220603-142742_1.jpgFederal charges are often penalized more harshly than state level offenses. If you are convicted of a federal offense, you may be sentenced to years or even decades in prison. Federal wire fraud charges can be penalized by up to 20 years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. If the fraud harmed a financial institution or involves a presidentially-declared emergency, the prison sentence can be up to 30 years.

If you or a loved one were charged with wire fraud, contact a federal criminal defense lawyer for help right away.

Federal Law on Wire Fraud

According to federal law, wire fraud occurs when:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_chicago-federal-crimes-lawyer_20220531-142824_1.jpgIf you find yourself charged with a federal crime, you might be wondering how your charge compares to a similar charge at the state level. There is some bad news - federal charges are typically a much more serious matter than state-level charges. Federal charges often lead to harsher sentencing, and you are less likely to receive a favorable plea bargain. This is partly because federal judges and prosecutors have less discretion than prosecutors and judges at the state level. If your offense carries a lot of prison time, you will probably serve quite a bit of it should you be convicted or plead guilty. White-collar offenders can expect no special treatment in federal courts, regardless of their position in society prior to the charge. If you are facing federal charges, it is important that you immediately retain a skilled federal criminal defense attorney. Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney has over 20 years of criminal defense experience at the federal level. 

Why Are Federal Charges More Serious Than State Charges?

There are a number of reasons that you should be more concerned about federal charges than state charges. For many white-collar offenders, a federal prosecution is their first interaction with the criminal justice system. A few things you should know about your federal charges include: 

  • Less discretion - At the state level, prosecutors have significant discretion in negotiating plea bargains. It is common for more serious offenses to be reduced or eliminated in the interest of avoiding a trial. State judges also have significant discretion in sentencing. Unless an offense carries a mandatory minimum sentence, there is a chance that a state judge will use alternative sentencing, like probation or house arrest. Federal judges, however, are bound by strict sentencing guidelines so you are less likely to avoid prison time. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_chicago-federal-defense-lawyer.jpgOpioid addiction is a national epidemic. It spans the entire country, and Chicago is no exception. Individuals who are caught trafficking illegally obtained prescription drugs may be subject to state or federal prosecution. Doctors who distribute narcotics outside the scope of their normal, reasonable medical practice may be subject to prosecution for federal drug crimes as well. It is a federal felony to knowingly and intentionally hand out opioid prescriptions when it is not for a legitimate medical purpose. While a large number of known “pill mills” were taken down years ago when the opioid epidemic first became a known problem, there are still doctors who attempt to discreetly continue prescribing opioids to individuals they know are likely to resell or abuse them. 

That said, it can be difficult for federal investigators to fully determine whether or not a prescription for narcotics is based on a patient’s genuine need for relief from legitimate pain. If you are a doctor and believe that you may be under scrutiny for prescribing narcotics, it is important that you reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. 

What “Red Flags” Can Make the DEA Suspicious of a Doctor Who Prescribes Narcotics?

When a doctor routinely prescribes opioid pain medicine, there are certain signs that may invite suspicion from the DEA. However, it can be difficult for someone who is not a doctor to determine whether a certain patient or group of patients legitimately needs these medications. The presence of one or more signs could lead to an investigation, during which you will absolutely want to be represented by an attorney. Signs that may make the DEA suspect prescription drug fraud include: 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_illinois-federal-criminal-lawyer.jpgWhen you are convicted of a federal crime, the next step is sentencing. In sentencing, the judge will decide what the appropriate legal punishment for your offense is. This may include fines, jail time, or a term of probation. You may think that once the sentence imposed by the court is over with, you will be free to move on with your life as it was before. Unfortunately, a return to normalcy is unlikely for most defendants due to what is known as “collateral consequences.” Collateral consequences are any consequences of a conviction not imposed by the court. They are very real and may change the course of your life forever. In some cases, you may experience collateral consequences even if you are not convicted. Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney may give you the best odds of avoiding or minimizing collateral consequences. 

4 Collateral Consequences of a Federal Conviction You Could Face

In a more ideal justice system, serving your sentence would be the end of the matter after a conviction. In reality, it almost never works out that way. The more things have been going well for you, the more you stand to lose. Collateral consequences may include: 

  • Job loss - Companies routinely fire employees who have been convicted of a crime. You may lose any professional licenses you hold. It can be exceptionally difficult for felons to find a job that is anything close to what they had before their conviction. 
  • Social problems - You may find that people you considered friends are no longer interested in associating with you. Your neighbors may make you feel unwelcome. You may become a target for gossip or even harassment, depending on the nature of your offense. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_chicago-federal-crimes-lawyer.jpgMoney laundering is, simply put, the illegal act of making “dirty” money appear “clean.” Generally, this involves making illegally-obtained money, such as profits from selling illicit drugs, look like it came from a legitimate source. Money laundering schemes are growing increasingly sophisticated and hard to detect. With the rise of online and international trade, it is easier than ever for unscrupulous actors to filter dirty money through legitimate businesses. If you own a business, it is important that you keep an eye out for any signs that someone is using your company to launder their illicit funds. Even if you are doing everything in your power to run your business in a legal and ethical manner, all it takes is one criminal to take advantage of you and you could find yourself facing federal charges. If you suspect that your business is being used for money laundering, do not wait to hear from the FBI - call an attorney immediately and follow their advice.

What Are Some Clues That Someone is Laundering Money Through My Company?

The key is to watch for patterns over time. While the presence of one of these signs from time to time could be perfectly innocent, if you start noticing more than one sign or a repetitive pattern of activity, it might be time to talk to a lawyer. Red flags may include: 

  • Overpricing - Look out for instances where it appears that a customer paid way too much for a single item. This is very common for those who run online stores that sell physical items, like jewelry or art. If it suddenly appears that some of your goods are fetching prices far over market value, it could be a sign of money laundering. 

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