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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 lawyerRecently, a Pensacola man was charged with human trafficking in three different states. The charges came after multiple federal search warrants turned up evidence of this offense and a number of others in several massage parlors across the country. While some have heard of human trafficking, whether through movies or news reports, few completely understand what this crime entails. Sometimes this includes those charged. It is important that anyone facing charges understands what possible penalties they face, and how a Chicago federal defense attorney can help. Understanding the Crime of Human Trafficking Human trafficking occurs when one person smuggles, conceals, or obtains people through the use of force or threat of force. Transporting a person under these means is also considered human trafficking. While most people are familiar with the term, ‘human trafficking,’ the legal statute refers to the offense as involuntary servitude, forced labor, and sex trafficking. The statute on human trafficking also includes language further defining human trafficking as defrauding a person through an abuse of power when the above conditions are met. This also includes using a person to make a profit while exploiting them. Penalties for Human Trafficking Human trafficking is considered to be an extremely serious crime in the United States. As such, those convicted face up to 20 years in federal prison if they are convicted of the crime. If a person died as a result of human trafficking, those penalties are increased to life imprisonment. Sex trafficking also carries harsher sentences than human trafficking that does not involve sex offenses. When children are involved in sex trafficking, or the victim was defrauded, forced, or coerced to perform sexual acts, the minimum sentence is ten years in federal prison. Convictions for these offenses can also result in a life imprisonment sentence. In addition to the prison sentences and potential fines that are sentenced in human trafficking convictions, those accused may also have to appear on the sex offender registry. This can make it extremely difficult to find employment and housing in the future and will affect just about every aspect of the defendant’s life. The penalties for human trafficking may also vary, depending on the person’s role in the offense. For example, if someone drove the vehicle that transported the victims of human trafficking, they may face up to seven years in federal prison, even if they did not actively participate in the trafficking. Need Help with Federal Charges? Call Our Illinois Federal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with human trafficking or any other federal crime, it is important you get the help of an experienced Chicago federal defense attorney. At the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel, we know these cases are not as hopeless as they seem. We also know there are defenses available, and how to use them to build you the solid defense you need. Call us today at 312-270-0999 or fill out our online form for your free consultation. We are committed to helping those wrongly accused, and we want to help you, too.



Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerDuring a federal criminal trial, prosecutors have to prove a number of elements in their case. One of those elements is the legal concept of ‘mens rea’ or criminal intent. This is true in most cases, although there are certain cases that rest on strict liability and do not include the requirement of intent. Not only must the prosecution prove intent, but there are also four different levels of intent they must prove. The level they must prove will depend on the statute involved in the case. Below, those four levels of intent are examined more closely.

The Accused Acted Knowingly

There are many criminal statutes that only require the prosecution to prove the defendant acted knowingly. This means that the defendant simply knew what they were doing. The prosecution does not have to prove that the defendant knew what they were doing was against the law. For example, 18 U.S.C. Section 1512(b) states that it is illegal to intimidate or threaten a person that could be a witness for the federal prosecution. If the prosecution can prove a person knowingly did this, they do not have to also prove the defendant knew it was illegal.


Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerWhen charged with a federal crime such as healthcare fraud, you may understand that you need an attorney, but you may not know which type of attorney you need. Federal crimes are very different than state crimes. The case will be heard in a different court, by different judges, and the courts will have different schedules. These are important differences that will affect the outcome of your case, even if you do not yet realize it. A federal criminal defense attorney will understand the federal court system, and will not let the different procedures hurt your case.

Federal Laws Differ from State Laws

Of course, this is the most obvious difference, but it is an important one. Criminal defense attorneys are typically well-versed in the laws of their state and know how to defend against state crimes. Typically, they are not as familiar with federal law. For example, embezzlement in Illinois can be charged as either a state crime or a federal crime. If a criminal defense attorney prepares a defense according to state laws, it will have a negative impact on your case.


Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerIf you have been arrested for a federal crime, you know what a scary thing it is. You are likely envisioning the worst possible outcome, spending years of your life in federal prison. However, this is not always the case. In the United States, there is a program that allows first offenders a chance to avoid jail time. This program cannot only eliminate the possibility of jail time altogether, but it can also help you escape the possibility of having a criminal record for your entire life.

So, what is this program? It is the Federal First Offenders Act (FFOA), and anyone charged with a federal crime needs to speak to an experienced federal criminal defense attorney that can review their case and determine if they are eligible.

The Basics of the Federal First Offenders Act


Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerEmbezzlement is considered a white-collar crime. It occurs when one person entrusted with money or property on behalf of someone else misappropriates those assets for their own personal benefit. Many people think that embezzlement is automatically a federal crime. However, this is not true. There are both Illinois statutes pertaining to the crime of embezzlement, as well as federal statutes. The circumstances surrounding the crime will determine which charge is laid.

Federal Embezzlement Charges

Federal embezzlement charges are covered under Title 18 of the U.S. Criminal Code, Chapter 31. These charges are laid when the misappropriation of funds or property crosses state lines, as that falls under federal jurisdiction. In addition, if the embezzlement involved a federal agency such as the United States Postal Service, federal charges will also be laid.



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