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Illinois federal criminal defense lawyerHomebuyers in the United States have had a difficult time navigating the housing market lately, due to financial constraints related to the COVID-19 pandemic and increased competition driven by low interest rates. While homeownership is a dream for many people, it can be difficult to achieve, especially at a time like now. Some people may be tempted to obtain a mortgage through underhanded means, or prey on those who are struggling, but it is important to know that mortgage fraud is a serious crime that is typically prosecuted at the federal level and that can carry significant penalties.

Understanding Types of Mortgage Fraud

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), mortgage fraud is a type of financial institution fraud that involves some sort of misstatement, omission, or misrepresentation on a mortgage loan application or agreement for the purposes of misleading a bank or lender. Mortgage fraud can include actions taken by borrowers to obtain a place of residence or by lenders to make money. Common types of mortgage fraud include:

  • Foreclosure rescue or loan modification schemes: In some mortgage fraud cases, the perpetrator preys on homeowners who are close to foreclosure or who are already in the foreclosure process by either offering to save their home by transferring the deed to an investor while the homeowner’s finances improve, or by offering to renegotiate loan terms for the homeowner. Instead of helping, the perpetrator pockets the money that they make off of selling the home to the investor, or by collecting fees or other costs from the homeowner for allegedly negotiating new loan terms.

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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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Posted by on in Criminal Defense

Chicago IL criminal defense attorneyWhen you have been charged with a crime and your case is set for trial, you and your attorney will need to decide if you are going to testify on your own behalf. This decision will need to take into account a variety of ethical and strategic considerations, including the nature and severity of the crimes for which you have been charged. Deciding to testify in a murder trial, for example, is much different from deciding to testify in a trial for theft or burglary. As you and your lawyer approach this decision, it is critical to understand how the choice can affect your case.

Constitutional Rights and Protections for Criminal Defendants

As a criminal defendant, you have the right to due process of law as promised by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. You also have the right to face your accusers under the Sixth Amendment. Taken together, these rights have been interpreted in case law as giving you the right to testify in any criminal proceeding against you. Nobody involved in the case can keep you from testifying if you wish to do so, including the judge, the prosecutor, or even your own attorney.

It is also your right not to testify during your criminal trial. This right does not exist in other types of proceedings. For example, you can be required to testify in a civil trial, and failing to comply could lead to sanctions or a finding of contempt. However, the Fifth Amendment guarantees that you cannot be forced to incriminate yourself, which means that you cannot be compelled to testify when you are the defendant in a criminal case.

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Posted by on in Bail

Chicago criminal defense lawyerLast month, Illinois lawmakers passed legislation that would eliminate the use of cash bail in criminal courts throughout the state. The measure, which is now awaiting the expected signature of Governor J.B. Pritzker, is being touted by supporters as a strong step toward creating a more equitable justice system for Illinois residents of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Understanding How Bail Works in Illinois

When a person is arrested and charged with a crime, he or she is generally required to make an appearance in front of a judge in a preliminary hearing. This usually happens within 48 hours of the arrest. At this hearing, the judge will consider the details of the alleged crime and determine if the probable cause presented by law enforcement was sufficient to justify the arrest. If the offense in question is a misdemeanor, the suspect is likely to be given a date for the next required court appearance and released on his or her own recognizance. If the offense is a felony, the next appearance will be scheduled, and the judge must then determine the bond conditions on which the suspect may be released.

A bond is an agreement between the suspect and the court in which the suspect promises to appear as ordered in all future proceedings related to his or her case. In most jurisdictions, a bond agreement usually requires some type of collateral—most often in the form of cash—commonly referred to as bail. The amount of required bail typically depends on the severity of the alleged crime, the danger that the suspect poses to the community, and whether the suspect is a flight risk.

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Chicago IL criminal defense attorneyRoutine traffic stops for minor violations, like driving with a faulty tail light, failing to properly signal a turn, or exceeding the posted speed limit, are common occurrences, and in most cases they result in a ticket and fine, or even just a warning. However, sometimes what starts as a routine traffic stop can result in much more serious criminal charges, including for driving under the influence (DUI) or illegal possession of drugs, weapons, or stolen property. If you are stopped by a law enforcement officer, it is important that you understand your rights.

Common Misconceptions About Traffic Stops

Many people believe that they are required to answer an officer’s every question and consent to their every request during a traffic stop. A person’s natural instinct may be to cooperate, and they may even hope that the officer will let them off with just a warning because they were so polite. The reality, however, is that anything you say to the police officer could become evidence used against you later in court. In addition, your statements could give the officer probable cause to arrest you for a more serious offense, or to search your vehicle.

You Cannot Be Forced to Incriminate Yourself

You should never lie to a police officer, of course, and you are required to provide certain information, such as that which is on your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of auto insurance. This information generally includes things like your name, address, age, and date of birth. However, you are under no obligation to provide the officer with any additional information. If an officer asks you a question that could be incriminating, such as, “Have you been drinking tonight?” you have the right to politely respond with something to the effect of, “I prefer not to answer any questions without the advice of an attorney.”

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