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Illinois federal criminal defense lawyerA federal crime is any offense that violates United States federal laws. These crimes are prosecuted by government agencies and can come with harsher punishments than state crimes. If you were recently charged with a federal offense, the steps you take afterward can have a large impact on the outcome of your case, including your chances of avoiding conviction or reducing your sentence.

Steps to Take If You Are Facing a Federal Criminal Charge

Facing a federal criminal charge can definitely be a frightening ordeal. However, it is important to maintain your composure and take the necessary steps to protect your rights and build a strong defense.

  • Understand whether you could face both federal and state charges. If you violated both federal and state laws, you may be up against both federal and state charges. This means that even if you get convicted or acquitted of a state crime, the government can still charge you with a federal crime. Knowing the stakes can help you choose the most appropriate response.

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Illinois federal crime defense lawyerMany crimes have the potential to be charged at either the state or federal level. Prosecutors must come to an agreement as to which entity has jurisdiction, or whether both entities have jurisdiction, before they can proceed with charging a crime. Kidnapping is one of the crimes that can be charged in both state and federal courts. Federal kidnapping charges can be extremely serious and can end up landing you in prison for many, many years. If you have been charged with kidnapping at any level, you need assistance from a skilled Illinois kidnapping defense attorney.

Understanding Federal Kidnapping Crimes

According to the United States Code, kidnapping occurs when a person seizes, confines, abducts, or takes and holds for ransom any person. For the act to be considered a federal crime, one or more of the following elements must also be true:

  • The kidnapper transported the victim across state or country lines.

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Illinois federal crime defense attorneyThere are various rights that all American citizens have been given by the U.S. Constitution. For example, we all have the right to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the freedom to peacefully assemble. One of the constitutional rights that comes into question in many criminal cases is your Fifth Amendment right against “double jeopardy,” or being tried for the same crime more than once. When you commit certain crimes, you may find that you face both state and federal charges for the same event. Many times, this is a result of committing a crime that takes place across state lines, but it can also be a result of various crimes that violate both state and federal laws. Though it may seem unfair, you can indeed face both state and federal charges for the same crime.

Understanding “Double Jeopardy”

To explain the legality of charging a crime on both the state and federal levels, you must first understand the two most important concepts that are involved: double jeopardy and dual sovereignty. Many people believe that being charged both by the state and the federal government is a violation of their Fifth Amendment rights. The Fifth Amendment states that, “No person shall...be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb…” This means that once a person is subject to certain charges, they cannot be subject to charges arising from the same incident again.

The Concept of “Dual Sovereignty”

Dual sovereignty is one of the exceptions to the double jeopardy rule. The concept of dual sovereignty is simply the idea that it is still constitutionally legal for both the state government and the federal government to press charges for the same instance of crime. The basis of this argument is that the levels of government are two different entities and therefore have the right to charge the defendant for the same crime. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on this previously and has stated that facing both state and federal charges for a single crime is legal as long as the course of action during the crime violated both state and federal laws.

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Chicago IL federal criminal defense lawyerWhen you are charged with a federal criminal offense, you are likely to be very upset and confused. You might not know how you ended up being charged, and you probably have serious concerns about how the case will play out. These are all understandable feelings, but if left unchecked, they can lead to you taking the wrong type of action. You could find yourself doing things that might actually harm your case and make things worse for yourself. If you are facing federal charges, be aware of these common mistakes so that you can avoid them.

1. Careless Posting on Social Media

When a person is arrested on any criminal charges, he or she is given the Miranda warnings. These warnings remind a person of his or her right to an attorney and the right to remain silent. They also remind the suspect that anything he or she says can be used against him or her. It is critical to remember that this does not just apply to conversations or interrogations with the police. Anything you say at any time, including what you post on Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media platform, could be used by prosecutors against you. The best advice is to stay away from social media entirely while your case is ongoing, but you should absolutely avoid posting anything related to the case or the alleged crime.

2. Giving Information to the Police

Many people are not aware that they are not required to talk with the police, especially before they are reminded of their rights. If you are detained or arrested by the police, you do not have to answer any questions about the case, and you certainly should not say anything that might cause you to appear guilty. Invoking your Fifth Amendment right does not make you look guilty. It simply demonstrates that you understand your rights and how they apply.

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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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