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Chicago IL federal crime defense attorneyNot all crimes that take place are crimes of violence. Some crimes can be just as destructive without directly causing any physical harm to people. Many of these crimes are related to finance or technology and are broadly referred to as white collar crimes. Now, more than ever, white collar crimes are easier to commit as technology advances further, and in the United States, a variety of task forces and federal agencies investigate and prosecute them. One type of white collar crime that is commonly associated with both low-level and high-profile crime is called money laundering.

What is Money Laundering?

In general, money laundering occurs when large amounts of money that are obtained through criminal activity are handled in a way that makes the money look as if it came from a legal source. In other words, money laundering takes “dirty” money and makes it “clean.” Many times, money laundering is a result of other criminal activity, such as drug trafficking or manufacturing. Most of these illegal businesses operate with cash, but keeping thousands and sometimes millions of dollars on hand is inefficient. Money laundering allows criminals to deposit that money into a legitimate financial institution without it looking suspicious.

How Does Money Laundering Take Place?

Many small-scale money laundering operations take place throughout the United States. For example, a criminal drug organization may own a restaurant or barbershop that they use to funnel money through. The company may report more than what they actually bring in each night at the restaurant or barbershop so they can include some of the “dirty” or criminal money in the bank deposit for the legitimate business. Once all of the money has been deposited, the criminals are free to withdraw the money at any time, without fear of it being traced back as illegal cash.

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Illinois federal criminal defense lawyerThe United States has a long and complicated history with drugs. In the 1800s, many drugs that are illegal today were available to most individuals who wanted them. Cocaine, heroin, opium, and cannabis were widely sold and were sometimes even marketed as health remedies. By the late 1800s, several states began to pass laws banning the sale and use of cocaine and opium, and by the early 1900s, the first federal law relating to drug use and possession was passed, highly regulating the legal narcotic industry and creating law enforcement that today is known as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). In today’s world, the DEA is best known for enforcing federal drug laws and prosecuting those who sell or traffic drugs across state lines, along with other federal drug offenses.

Sentencing Guidelines for Federal Drug Crimes

Many federal drug crimes have minimum sentences that are required to be imposed if the person is convicted. These guidelines were put into place during the 1980s when the Reagan administration declared the “War on Drugs,” but many studies have shown that these minimum sentences do not actually reduce the amount of drug crime or the rate of recidivism of those who have been convicted. Nevertheless, these minimum sentences still exist today. If you are convicted of federal drug manufacturing or trafficking, you could face the following consequences:

Minimum Five-Year Sentence With a Maximum 40-Year Sentence For Trafficking:

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Illinois federal criminal defense lawyerHomebuyers in the United States have had a difficult time navigating the housing market lately, due to financial constraints related to the COVID-19 pandemic and increased competition driven by low interest rates. While homeownership is a dream for many people, it can be difficult to achieve, especially at a time like now. Some people may be tempted to obtain a mortgage through underhanded means, or prey on those who are struggling, but it is important to know that mortgage fraud is a serious crime that is typically prosecuted at the federal level and that can carry significant penalties.

Understanding Types of Mortgage Fraud

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), mortgage fraud is a type of financial institution fraud that involves some sort of misstatement, omission, or misrepresentation on a mortgage loan application or agreement for the purposes of misleading a bank or lender. Mortgage fraud can include actions taken by borrowers to obtain a place of residence or by lenders to make money. Common types of mortgage fraud include:

  • Foreclosure rescue or loan modification schemes: In some mortgage fraud cases, the perpetrator preys on homeowners who are close to foreclosure or who are already in the foreclosure process by either offering to save their home by transferring the deed to an investor while the homeowner’s finances improve, or by offering to renegotiate loan terms for the homeowner. Instead of helping, the perpetrator pockets the money that they make off of selling the home to the investor, or by collecting fees or other costs from the homeowner for allegedly negotiating new loan terms.

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Chicago IL criminal defense attorneyIn the United States, the right to own and carry a firearm is protected under the Second Amendment of the Constitution. However, there are certain acts and situations that may cause you to lose your right to own or carry a firearm. In addition, you could face criminal charges if you use a weapon to threaten someone or in the commission of another crime. A qualified criminal defense attorney can help you learn what you need to know about guns and weapons charges in the state of Illinois.

Not All Weapons Are Guns

While most weapons charges result from the illegal use or possession of a gun, not all are connected to a firearm. In fact, almost any object can become a weapon, depending on the circumstances. Examples could include everything from knives, swords, and switchblades to stun guns and brass knuckles. Use of these or any other dangerous weapons can lead to a criminal weapons charge under Illinois law.

Unlawful Use or Possession of a Weapon by a Felon

Those who have previously been convicted on felony charges are barred from using or possessing a firearm. This applies even if the felony conviction did not take place in the state of Illinois. If a felony offender ignores this ban, they are at risk of charges for unlawful use or possession of a weapon by a felon. At minimum, this is a Class 3 felony, which carries a penalty of up to ten years in prison for a first offense. A subsequent offense, or the possession of certain types of weapons, can lead to elevated charges and increased penalties.

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Posted by on in Criminal Defense

Chicago IL criminal defense attorneyWhen you have been charged with a crime and your case is set for trial, you and your attorney will need to decide if you are going to testify on your own behalf. This decision will need to take into account a variety of ethical and strategic considerations, including the nature and severity of the crimes for which you have been charged. Deciding to testify in a murder trial, for example, is much different from deciding to testify in a trial for theft or burglary. As you and your lawyer approach this decision, it is critical to understand how the choice can affect your case.

Constitutional Rights and Protections for Criminal Defendants

As a criminal defendant, you have the right to due process of law as promised by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. You also have the right to face your accusers under the Sixth Amendment. Taken together, these rights have been interpreted in case law as giving you the right to testify in any criminal proceeding against you. Nobody involved in the case can keep you from testifying if you wish to do so, including the judge, the prosecutor, or even your own attorney.

It is also your right not to testify during your criminal trial. This right does not exist in other types of proceedings. For example, you can be required to testify in a civil trial, and failing to comply could lead to sanctions or a finding of contempt. However, the Fifth Amendment guarantees that you cannot be forced to incriminate yourself, which means that you cannot be compelled to testify when you are the defendant in a criminal case.

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