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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 Murder
Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerThe news of Joaquin Guzman, better known as ‘El Chapo,’ starting his life sentence this week made news around the country, and around the globe. The sentence came after Guzman was found guilty of a number of crimes, including conspiracy to commit murder. While a jury found Guzman guilty and he was largely known as a very violent criminal, not everyone accused of conspiracy to commit murder actually committed the act. Fortunately for these individuals, there are defenses available. What Is Conspiracy to Commit Murder? The federal crime of conspiring to commit murder is covered under 18 U.S. Code Section 1117. Under this code, it is unlawful to conspire, or plan, to kill internationally protected persons, law enforcement or government officials, or any other person. It is important to understand that the act of murder does not have to happen in order for the prosecution to press conspiracy charges. The government must simply show that a person had plans to kill another person. If the murder did take place, a person will likely face both conspiracy charges and murder charges. In a conspiracy case, the prosecution must prove the intent of the defendant, which is very difficult to do. If a person is unaware they are part of a conspiracy, they cannot be convicted of a crime. However, a person also does not need to be made aware of all the elements of the crime, either. As long as they know they are part of a conspiracy, they can face charges. For those convicted, conspiracy to commit murder has very harsh penalties. There is no minimum sentence, and a person could spend the rest of their life in federal prison. Due to this, it is important any individual charged speak to a federal criminal defense attorney that can help. Defenses to Conspiracy to Commit Murder One of the most effective defenses in conspiracy to commit murder cases is abandonment or withdrawal. If the defendant can show that they communicated to their co-conspirators, in no uncertain terms, that they no longer wished to play a role in the conspired crime, this can be used as a defense. When using this argument, the defendant must also show that they took positive action to remove themselves from the conspiracy. They must also show they no longer communicate with their co-conspirators. This withdrawal must occur prior to the conspired act taking place. Like all criminal cases, mistaken identity can also be used as a defense in conspiracy to commit murder cases. Sometimes, law enforcement and the prosecution simply get it wrong. When they do, and they accuse the wrong person of conspiracy to commit murder, it can be used as a defense to conspiracy to commit murder. When law enforcement has persuaded someone to partake in conspiracy to commit murder, this is also a useful defense. To use it, the defendant must show they had no intention of committing a crime before communication with a law enforcement officer. They must also show the conspiracy was suggested by the officer first, and that the officer persuaded the defendant to conspire to commit the act. Charged with a Federal Crime? Call an Illinois Federal Criminal Defense Attorney

Like all federal crimes, there are valid and effective defenses to the crime conspiracy to commit murder. However, no one should ever try to argue them on their own. A skilled Chicago federal criminal defense lawyer can give defendants their best chance of success in court. If you have been charged with a federal crime, call the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel at 312-270-0999 today for your free consultation. We are dedicated to helping those accused of crimes retain their freedom, and we want to help with your case, too.




murder, criminal charges, Illinois criminal defense attorneyA homecoming celebration turned tragic this past weekend when a car plowed into a crowd of spectators, killing four and injuring dozens. Three adults and a two-year-old child were killed when the vehicle driven by a 25-year-old woman suddenly crashed into a throng of people watching the Oklahoma State University homecoming parade on Saturday in Stillwater. The driver was arrested on charges of driving under the influence and was held over the weekend on four counts of second-degree murder. She is expected to appear in court this week for arraignment.

Murder Charges in Illinois

As the OSU community seeks to heal following the tragedy, the case may serve to highlight some important facets of criminal law here in Illinois. Charges for murder in Illinois can be brought against a defendant in the first or second degree. First degree murder is committed when a person kills another:


self-defense, Illinois law, Chicago Criminal Defense LawyerIn recent years, the news has been filled with cases about self-defense and so-called "stand your ground" laws. Illinois law makes it legal to protect yourself in self-defense in certain situations. Sometimes when someone has been charged with a crime like assault or even murder, they claim they acted in self-defense. How does self-defense work in the criminal justice system?

What Self-Defense Means in Illinois

Every state has a different definition of what self-defense means. In Illinois you properly act in self-defense when:


shooting, indictment, Illinois Criminal Defense AttorneyIn the wake of protests and civil unrest following police-related deaths in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City, another high profile shooting death exploded into the public consciousness. Thanks largely to a bystander’s cell phone video, the police shooting of an African American man in North Charleston, South Carolina, captured headlines for several weeks beginning in early April. While the involved officer was fired and authorities promised an investigation, the future of the case was relatively uncertain until earlier this week when a grand jury officially indicted the former officer on a murder charge.

The indictment is related to a series of events on April 4th that left a 50 year old man dead following what seemed to be a relatively routine traffic stop. The officer’s dashboard camera indicated that initial stop for broken taillight was conducted without incident. A few minutes later, however, the driver emerged from his vehicle and attempted to get away. A cell phone video shot by a passerby showed the officer and driver involved in a physical altercation, after which the driver broke free again and ran. The officer fired eight times at the driver, ultimately killing him.

The cell phone video, understandably, went viral very quickly, prompting peaceful demonstrations and calls for police reform. The officer was fired from the police force while charges were pending, but has maintained that he feared for his life during the altercation. This week’s indictment by the grand jury ensures that he will stand trial for his alleged actions that day. If convicted of murder, the former officer faces from 30 years to life in prison without the possibility of parole.


Posted by on in Murder

first degree murder, second degree murder, Illinois Criminal Defense AttorneyMurder may be the most serious crime of which an individual can be accused. The unlawful taking of another’s life directly impacts not only the victim and his or her family, but can result in the most severe penalties allowed by law to the perpetrator.

Under Illinois law, there are two degrees of murder charges and conviction requires the demonstration by prosecution that the accused intended to kill the victim or knew his or her actions could cause major harm to the victim. The exception to this requirement would be a death occurring in the act of committing a felony, such as rape, arson, or burglary. In such a case, murder charges may still be brought against the perpetrator regardless of intent.

First Degree Murder



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