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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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Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyer, IL criminal defendant rights, Being accused of any type of crime can be completely overwhelming and confusing, whether it is a federal drug crime or an allegation related to child pornography. A criminal defendant may not know that he or she still has certain rights after being arrested and charged with a crime. These rights are protected by the United States Constitution and other state and federal laws. If you are facing criminal charges, it is important to remember that you are innocent until proven guilty, and you deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. It is important to know about the rights every criminal defendant has and what to do if your rights have been violated.

The Right to Remain Silent

Even if you have never before been arrested, you are probably familiar with the “right to remain silent.” This right is listed along with many others during the Miranda Warning—which should have been read to you during or after your arrest. You have a right to stay silent when questioned by police so that you can avoid incriminating yourself. Many criminal defendants inadvertently give police and prosecutors evidence which is later used against them by talking too much in the moments after the arrest, so it is critical that you do not consent to police questioning until you have an attorney present. An experienced criminal defense attorney will help you avoid the tactics that police often use in an attempt to get you to admit to a crime.


Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerDid you know that you could be charged with a federal crime even if authorities are aware that you did not actually commit what most people would consider an illegal act? At some point or another, most of us have talked or joked about the idea of committing some type of crime—such as robbing a bank when family finances get tight. Doing so may seem harmless, especially when such conversations are light-hearted, but in reality, having serious discussions or making plans related to the commission of a crime could lead to the filing of federal conspiracy charges. It is possible to be charged with conspiracy even if the discussed act or acts were never actually carried out.

Understanding Federal Conspiracy Charges

Criminal conspiracy is one of the most common charges filed at the federal level. In general, prosecutors are often likely to file this because it allows for a broad set of evidence to be presented. Federal conspiracy charges are also commonly used as leverage by federal prosecutors and law enforcement agencies as they investigate larger-scale criminal operations. For example, a federal agent could threaten to charge a person with criminal conspiracy unless the person is willing to cooperate and share additional details about other individuals who may have carried out the primary offense in question.

Federal charges for criminal conspiracy can be brought against a suspect in connection with any federal crime, including federal drug crimes, federal white-collar offenses, and federal child pornography charges. A federal conspiracy charge means that federal agents or prosecutors have reasons to believe that at least two individuals somehow agreed to work together in committing a federal offense. To obtain a conviction on federal conspiracy charges, the United States attorney who is prosecuting the case must be able to prove several elements, including:


Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerMany people have heard the term contempt of court, whether on a television show, movie, or perhaps even in real life. While this term is often used in state court, many people also do not understand that this offense can be considered a federal crime. In fact, the federal statutes have many pieces of law pertaining to contempt of court, and they can all become complex. It is for this reason that, if you are facing contempt of court charges, you must work with a criminal defense attorney that is familiar with federal offenses, and knows how to defend against them.

18 U.S. Code, Chapter 21

All of the United States’ statutes dealing with contempt of court are found in 18 U.S. Code, Chapter 21. This chapter is broken down into several sections regarding different aspects of contempt of court. Section 401 within this chapter deals with the power of the court, while Section 402 outlines when contempt constitutes a criminal offense. Lastly, Section 403 of 18 U.S. Code, Chapter 21 specifically deals with protecting the privacy of child victims and witnesses to a crime that are children.


Posted by on in Criminal Defense
Illionois defense attorney, Illinois federal crimes lawyer, Illinois criminal defense lawyerNot everyone convicted of a crime in Illinois is found guilty and sentenced to jail or prison. Depending on a person’s criminal record and the nature of their offense, there is a chance for some to be sentenced to what Illinois calls a diversion program. These can be for first offenders, young offenders, or those for whom a standard jail sentence would not be recommended. Illinois makes extensive use of these programs for certain types of offenders, especially first-time offenders. Multiple Options Many of the diversion programs available in Illinois as of this writing are aimed specifically at defendants who have never been in trouble with the law before, the most common of which is called court supervision. While court supervision is locally based in counties and cities rather than a statewide program, it is nonetheless an effective way to have a nonviolent offender serve out a sentence instead of consigning them to incarceration. Essentially, court supervision is when one admits culpability for an offense, but entry of a conviction is postponed or delayed. If the person on supervision completes probation successfully (usually a six month or one year period, though every case is different), no conviction is entered and the record is usually expunged. While diversion may be an option upon the conclusion of proceedings, pretrial diversion is also possible. DuPage County has its own program, begun in 2012, which offers some first-time offenders the chance to make amends without sustaining a conviction being entered upon their criminal records, especially some which might otherwise be difficult to expunge. In the DuPage County program, offenders must go before a ‘citizens’ panel,’ which will then make a recommendation as to whether or not the person should go into the program. Upon completion of the program, the offense will be either removed from the person’s record or listed as a lesser offense.

Not Automatic

It is imperative to understand that diversion programs must be requested in most cases (as opposed to being given as a sentence freely), and if one requests diversion rather than standard sentencing, the court is not obligated to consent. The court will weigh several factors in making a determination, including any existing mental health issues on the part of the defendant, the nature of the offense, and any substance abuse issues (past or present). These, in addition to the existence or non-existence of a criminal record, are the questions that the judge or jury will be permitted to examine before passing sentence on a defendant, and they are within their rights to recommend jail time. That said, the courts generally recognize that in many cases, a diversion program is in the best interest of the offender and society as a whole. The state’s General Assembly has taken notice of the fact that many offenders, especially those growing up in poverty or high crime areas, experience “trauma that contributes to poor decision-making skills.” In such cases, it is very plausible that a diversion program would do more to combat recidivism than a prison sentence, and in one’s particular case, it can be advantageous to try and show that they would fall into that group who would benefit from alternatives to incarceration.

Contact an Experienced Legal Professional

While diversion programs can be highly advantageous in terms of keeping potential problems from appearing on one’s criminal record, having an experienced Chicago federal crimes attorneys to represent one’s individual interests is generally recommended to ensure the highest possible chance of being accepted into one. The Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney deals with cases of this type on a regular basis and will work hard to assist with every case that comes through the door. To set up an initial consultation, contact our offices today at 312-270-0999.




Illionois defense attorney, Illinois federal crimes lawyer, Illinois criminal defense lawyerIt is surprising but true: child pornography sentences are longer than sex contact crimes perpetrated against minors such as rape or molestation. This holds true whether the convictions take place in state or federal court.

Experts believe that this differential can be attributed to the type of evidence presented at child porn and sex contact crime trials. In sex contact crimes trials, testimony is often a key component of the government’s case. Testimony can often be conflicting between witnesses. This is especially true where children are witnesses. There is often also difficulty gathering physical evidence in sex contact crimes.

In contrast, child pornography cases typically involve firmer evidence. Child pornography possession is essentially a strict liability crime; if a person is found to be in possession of the contraband, he or she will likely be convicted. The physical evidence is often on a computer or other piece of technology. There is usually no “he said, she said” testimony.



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