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Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerIn most cases, a computer-related crime that is committed anywhere in the U.S. can usually be prosecuted as a federal offense. Of course, each state maintains its own laws regarding computer-based offenses, but such crimes typically involve the internet, which places them under the jurisdiction of federal authorities and the United States federal justice system. For example, those accused of using computers to facilitate drug or weapons trafficking or the exchange of child pornography will usually find themselves facing charges in federal court. The same is true for “hackers” who gain unauthorized access to computer networks or systems via the internet. But what about voting system hacking?

This knowledge—combined with the rampant allegations and rumors of voting-related fraud during the current election campaign—you may be surprised to discover that federal authorities do not currently have a concise process available to prosecute any suspect who is alleged to have hacked a voting system. Late last month, the U.S. House of Representatives took a clear step forward in addressing this problem by unanimously passing a measure that will give the U.S. Justice Department a statutory basis from which to prosecute voter system hacking in federal court.

The Need for a Voting System Hacking Law

The Defending the Integrity of Voting Systems Act originated in the Senate last year following a report issued by the Cyber Digital Task Force—a commissioned extension of the Justice Department. In the report, the Task Force recognized that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) was and continues to be the primary federal statute under which hacking crimes are prosecuted. However, the CFAA, as it is currently written, does not expressly identify voting machines as protected computers, which means hacking into a voting machine is not expressly identified as a federal crime under the CFAA.

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Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerThe crime of mail fraud was first addressed by the federal government in the mid-1800s after evidence surfaced that people were using the U.S. mail system to conduct various scams. The interstate nature of the mail (and eventually wire service) effectively required the matter to be one of federal interest. As a result, in 1872, it became a federal crime for a person to use mail services—and now the internet—to willingly and knowingly deprive another person of their money, property, and/or services.

It is important to keep in mind that in order for an act or scheme to constitute mail or wire fraud, it must intend to defraud another party by means of wire communication or the mail. This means that an advertisement for a legitimate product or service—even one that is deceptive or misleading—is not generally considered fraudulent. The intent of the accused is the key to the case. The suspect must have intended to obtain something for nothing in order for the act to constitute fraud.

State and Federal Charges

In Illinois and some other states, wire and mail fraud are also prosecutable at the state level. If you are charged with both state-level mail fraud and federal mail fraud, your cases will likely be pushed up to federal court. The elements of such cases are similar at both levels.

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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.

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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:

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Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerOver the last few weeks, more than 1,000 arrests have been made in major cities around the country, and over 215 individuals have been charged with at least one federal crime. These numbers come from an announcement made by U.S. Attorney General William Barr last week. The arrests were made as part of “Operation Legend,” a focused, nationwide effort to combat violent crime in America’s large cities.

In Chicago alone, more than 60 people have been charged with federal crimes since the initiative began in the city on July 22. Attorney Barr said the charges are related to bank fraud, narcotics, and weapons violations.

Operation Legend Honors Young Victim

According to the Justice Department, Operation Legend was started as a “sustained, systemic, and coordinated law enforcement initiative in which federal law enforcement agencies work in conjunction with state and local law enforcement officials to fight violent crime.” The name of the operation was selected to honor LeGend Taliferro, a 4-year-old boy who was shot to death as slept in the early hours of June 29 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Second-degree murder charges were filed against the boy’s alleged killer two weeks ago.)

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