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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...
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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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Chicago federal criminal defense attorneyThe nation looked on in horror as a protest in the nation’s capital turned violent and destructive last week, leading to a number of injuries and widespread damage to one of America’s most iconic buildings. Thousands of protestors gathered in front of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, DC, on January 6 as lawmakers were assembled to certify the results of November’s presidential election. According to various news outlets, the protest turned destructive as hundreds of people managed to get past Capitol security and into the building itself.

In the days that followed, authorities announced the filing of federal charges against a number of the people who were allegedly involved. Among the first 13 arrested on federal charges was the CEO of a Chicago-area tech company who is now facing at least three federal charges for his alleged actions last week. Several dozen others were arrested and charged with unlawful entry and curfew violations in Washington, DC Superior Court.

Federal Charges Lead to Termination

According to various news outlets, an Inverness man was charged last week with three federal crimes, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. The 52-year-old was the chief executive officer of a small data technology company based in Schaumburg.

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Chicago federal crime defense lawyerIf you have ever watched crime shows on television, you are probably familiar with the term “money laundering.” While most people know that money laundering is illegal, many are not sure about what it actually means. Money laundering is a very serious offense that is prosecutable at both the state and federal level, and as a federal offense, it carries the possibility of severe criminal penalties.

Understanding Money Laundering

Money laundering, in general, refers to a process through which a person or group of people attempts to conceal the sources, control, or ownership of money that was generated from certain crimes. It is common for money to be “laundered” by moving it to and from separate accounts, including foreign accounts, or by concealing funds amidst the revenue of seemingly legitimate businesses.

Many different types of crimes could generate funds that a person or criminal enterprise would wish to launder, including but not limited to:

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