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Posted by on in Fraud
Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerApproaching tax season, many taxpayers in Illinois and across the country are thinking about their tax return. It is a frustrating time, as some people may owe income taxes, but the Internal Revenue Code itself is extremely confusing. It is also changing all the time, making it even more difficult to keep up on all the different tax laws. Understanding these laws is crucial. The IRS may consider just one mistake on a tax return fraud, which could result in severe penalties for the taxpayer. Below are some of the most common mistakes misinterpreted as tax fraud. These are sometimes referred to as “accidental fraud.”

Incorrect or Incomplete Information

 Before filing an income tax return, it needs to be double-checked and then checked again. Even a mistake in basic information such as a social security number or address can result in a charge of tax fraud. Incomplete tax returns are easier to file than some may think. This is particularly true when someone is claiming a credit. Claiming credits often requires the taxpayer to fill out additional forms. When the credit is claimed but the respective form is not filled out, this makes the return incomplete. Most of these mistakes will not lead to charges of tax fraud. However, if additional mistakes are made or there are extenuating circumstances around the return, even these simple errors could result in criminal charges. Inaccurate Deductions It is difficult for taxpayers to understand what counts as a valid deduction and what does not. When deductions for a business are involved, it is even more challenging. Any deductions claimed are subtracted from a person’s overall income. The more claimed, the less a person may owe in income taxes. It is for this reason the IRS consider inaccurate deductions as tax fraud. They also understand it is difficult to know all possible deductions, which is why they have created a guideline of credits and deductions on their site. Even the simple mistake of claiming a lunch as a business lunch when it was not can result in a charge of tax fraud. This is why it is so important to also double check any deductions, and ensure they are accurate. Omitting Income All Americans are required to fill out their income tax return completely and honestly. This includes detailing all income earned the previous year. When the IRS suspects a person of not claiming all of their income, that person is likely to get audited. If the IRS finds unclaimed income, they can then press charges for tax evasion. This mistake is also an easy one to make. Even a small oversight such as leaving tips unclaimed can result in a tax evasion charge. Unlawful Tax Shelters A tax shelter is a financial agreement a person makes in order to pay fewer taxes. They are legal, however, there are tax shelters that operate illegally. This is often difficult for the taxpayer, as they may not even know a tax shelter is illegal until it is too late. However, the IRS can still hold them responsible for creating or using the shelter. Tax Return Preparer Fraud The tax laws in the country are very confusing, which is why so many taxpayers hire a knowledgeable professional to complete their tax returns for them. In most cases, tax preparers are scrupulously honest and careful with these returns. Sometimes though, a tax preparer may inflate a person’s income so that they get paid more. Like unlawful tax shelters, a taxpayer that made the mistake of hiring the tax preparer may have no idea they are dishonest until it is too late. Contact a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney for Help Today

Facing tax fraud charges, like facing charges of any federal crime, is very scary. It is extremely challenging for those that thought they were simply following the law by filing their tax returns on time. However, charges do not have to lead to a conviction. A dedicated Chicago tax fraud lawyer can help. If you have been charged with tax fraud, contact the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel at 312-629-0669 for a free consultation. We know the tax laws, and we know how easy it is to make a simple mistake. Do not go up against the IRS alone. Get the help you need by contacting us today.



Posted by on in Federal Crimes

Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerWhen a person makes statements under oath, they have sworn to tell the truth. If they intentionally lie, they may face perjury charges. A person providing sworn testimony knowing that it was false is often the first type of perjury people think of when they imagine this crime. There is another type of perjury under federal law, however: suborning perjury.

Suborning Perjury

BuzzFeed made headlines in January with a story surrounding suborning perjury. In their report, they state Trump committed the crime of suborning perjury after directing Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. Since that publication, CNN has reported Special counsel Robert Mueller has disputed the Buzzfeed report. Still, it has gotten people asking: what is suborning perjury?


Posted by on in Identity Theft
Illionois defense attorney, Illinois federal crimes lawyer, Illinois criminal defense lawyerIdentity theft has become a well-known term in recent years. However, until recently it had no legal definition. It was not until the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 that identity theft was recognized as a crime. And yes, it is now considered to be a federal crime. The penalties for identity theft are severe. Anyone charged with this crime needs to speak to an Illinois federal crimes attorney that can help with their case.

History of Identity Theft

Before 1998, identity theft was known as “false personation.” However, this crime involved someone misrepresenting their own identity rather than stealing someone else’s. False personation was very different than identity theft. While this crime may be committed so someone could avoid facing legal consequences of their actions, identity theft is nearly always about gaining access to someone else’s money.

Purpose of the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998

When this Act was created in 1998, it had four main purposes. The first was to recognize that identity theft was a crime against individuals. Until that point, it was largely seen as a crime against creditors. The second purpose of the Act was to make the general public aware that the Federal Trade Commission was and is the official organization where identity theft should be reported. The Act also increased penalties for identity theft and fraud. Lastly, it is very explicit in stating that stealing information is a crime. Prior to the Act, it was only a crime to produce or possess fake identity documents.

Other Laws Pertaining to Identity Theft

In addition to the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998, there have also been other laws created pertaining to identity theft. The Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act of 2004 is one such law. This Act defines aggravated identity theft. Aggravated identity theft occurs when someone steals another’s identity in order to commit a felony such as immigration violations, theft of Social Security benefits, and domestic terrorism. Four years later, the Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act was enacted in 2008. This Act allows federal courts to prosecute even in cases when the victim and the perpetrator live in the same state. It also provides that restitution should be paid for any time spent correcting the problems caused by identity theft.

Penalties for Identity Theft

The penalties for identity theft will vary, depending on whether it is prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor conviction could result in the accused spending up to one year in jail. They could also be required to pay high fines to the federal court. A felony conviction, on the other hand, will be much more severe. These crimes carry a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in prison and fines.

Call the Illinois Federal Crime Lawyer that can Help

Being charged with identity theft is very serious. If you have been charged with this crime, get the help you need from an experienced Chicago federal crime lawyer today. The Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney will prepare a strong defense to give you the best chance of a successful outcome. These are not charges you want to fight on your own. Call us today at 312-629-0669 for your free consultation so we can start reviewing your case.



Posted by on in Federal Crimes
Illionois defense attorney, Illinois federal crimes lawyer, Illinois criminal defense lawyerThe term ‘counterfeiting’ can be used to describe any number of fake articles. Counterfeit art or fake commercial items such as designer apparel can all be considered counterfeits. However, these goods are not covered by federal law. So what is the federal crime of counterfeiting? And what are the penalties one may face? Being charged with the federal crime of counterfeiting is very serious. Anyone that has been accused needs to speak to a Chicago federal criminal defense attorney that can give them the best chance of beating the charges.

Federal Counterfeiting Definition

According to the U.S. Code, Title 18, Chapter 25, the federal crime of counterfeiting involves producing, possessing, and using false documents that are used to cheat the government of the United States. These include:
  • Currency;
  • Securities, such as stock certificates;
  • Letters of patent;
  • Ship documents;
  • Postage stamps;
  • Military documents;
  • Legal documents including power of attorney documents, deeds, and certificates; and
  • Government documents, such as birth certificates.
While these are the crimes outlined in Chapter 25 of the U.S. Code, there are other federal counterfeiting crimes a person could be charged for as well.

Other Counterfeiting Crimes

Anyone involved in any type of counterfeiting can also be charged with a federal crime. These crimes include:
  • Possessing counterfeit items;
  • Using a counterfeit item and stating or acting as though it is legitimate;
  • Possessing tools used in the production of counterfeit items;
  • Removing or changing the VIN number on automotive vehicles;
  • Pasting portions of notes or bills together to create a counterfeit;
  • Manufacturing, selling, or possessing tokens or other currency substitutes; and
  • Trafficking in counterfeit goods and services.

Penalties for Counterfeiting

The penalties for different counterfeiting crimes vary. For the most common type of counterfeiting, creating false currency, the penalties include up to 25 years in federal prison and a potential fine of up to $250,000. If the accused benefits financially from the crime, or caused someone else to suffer financially, the penalties will be increased. In these instances, the penalties could include doubling the amount that was gained or lost, with the accused required to pay that amount in fines to the court. Issuing false securities also carries steep fines and a maximum of 20 years in federal prison. If someone is convicted of counterfeiting postage stamps, the penalties include potential fines and up to five years in federal prison.

Contact a Chicago Federal Crimes Lawyer for Help

Being charged with counterfeiting, or any other federal crime, is very serious. If convicted, a person may spend several years in federal prison, and they will have a permanent mark on their criminal record.

If you have been charged with counterfeiting, call a dedicated Chicago federal crimes lawyer. The Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney can provide you with the necessary defense to give you the best chances of a successful outcome in court. Do not wait, or try to beat these charges on your own. Call us today at 312-629-0669 for your free consultation.



Posted by on in White Collar Crime
Illionois defense attorney, Illinois federal crimes lawyer, Illinois criminal defense lawyerEmbezzlement is a type of white collar crime that comes with serious consequences for those convicted. Embezzlement occurs when someone entrusted with certain property takes that property. For example, a bookkeeper who takes money from her employer may be convicted of embezzlement. Federal prosecutors must prove the following elements to convict someone of embezzlement:
  • There was a trust or fiduciary relationship between the accused and the company or government agency;
  • The property came into the possession or care of the accused by virtue of his or her employment;
  • The accused’s dealings with the property constituted a fraudulent conversion or appropriation of it to his or her own use; and
  • The accused acted with the intent to deprive the owner of the use of this property.
Embezzlement is a crime that often takes place over a long period of time. In these cases, the perpetrator will gradually divert small sums of money into his or her bank account, hoping that these amounts will go undetected. U.S. courts have stated that someone accused of embezzlement cannot escape a conviction by arguing that the property would be returned or was returned. Even a temporary taking of the property is illegal.

Embezzlement vs. Larceny

Embezzlement differs from theft or larceny in that with theft or larceny, when the defendant took the property, the defendant must have had intent to take. With embezzlement, the defendant comes into possession of the property lawfully or with the consent of the rightful owner.

When Will Embezzlement Be a Federal Crime?

Embezzlement can be a state or federal crime. The elements of the crime are essentially the same regardless of whether state or federal charges are brought. If it is a state crime, the trial will occur in state court and, if there is a conviction, the defendant will serve a prison sentence in state prison. Some cases of embezzlement will be tried in federal court. To be considered a federal case of embezzlement, there typically must be an instance of an act or communication across state lines. This requirement is often met by wiring the money or by mailing documents out of state.

Contact a Chicago, IL Embezzlement Lawyer

If you have been charged with embezzlement, there are specific defenses you can raise. A qualified Chicago, IL embezzlement attorney will know what your best arguments will be in a courtroom in front of a jury. A lawyer will also know how to navigate all pre-trial proceedings and negotiations, which can take months to conclude.

To set up your free initial consultation, call our firm at 312-629-0669. In order to serve our clients fully, our phones are answered 24 hours a day.



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