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Posted by on in Federal Crimes

chicago criminal defense lawyerGenerally speaking, a “money mule” is a person who helps criminals launder the proceeds of their criminal enterprise so that it appears legitimate. Some money mules know exactly what they are doing - these individuals are aware of the true source of the money they handle and are intentionally participating in a money-laundering scheme. However, some money mules are innocent actors who have no idea that they are being used to further a criminal enterprise. 

Some, unfortunately, do not discover the truth until they have been arrested and charged. If you have faced one of these unwelcome wake-up calls from the federal government, you need to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Demonstrating your lack of knowledge could prove difficult. 

What Does a Money Mule Do? 

A money mule is a type of money launderer, whether they know it or not. The proceeds of illegal activity, like drug trafficking or bank fraud, are funneled through a money mule, who then returns most of the funds to the criminals in a way that makes it appear as if they came from a legitimate source. The mule takes on a significant risk of being charged with a federal crime. 

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Posted by on in Sex Crimes

chicago criminal defense lawyerBeing convicted of a federal sex crime will impact the rest of your life. Zmerely being accused of a sex crime can set social consequences, like job loss, in motion well before you even have a chance to be tried fairly. For crimes of this nature, the consequences are much more extensive than a prison sentence or a fine, although both are likely. Having to register as a sex offender can affect every facet of your life, from where you can live to what line of work you can be in. 

If you have been accused of a federal sex offense, the sooner you call an experienced criminal defense attorney the better. There is more at stake here than in nearly any other type of prosecution, and you will need a strong legal defense team to protect your rights and future. 

What Will Happen if I am Convicted of a Federal Sex Crime? 

The penalties judicially imposed will vary depending on the crime charged and all the facts and circumstances surrounding it. The social and professional consequences cannot be predictably accounted for, but you can expect them to be harsh. Consequences of a federal sex crime conviction include: 

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Posted by on in Criminal Defense

b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_665886625-min.jpg“Asset forfeiture” allows the federal government to seize property linked to a crime. This can include both the tools used to commit a crime and the proceeds. Civil forfeiture and criminal forfeiture effectively accomplish the same goals, but criminal forfeiture is contingent on a conviction. As part of sentencing, the court may order the defendant to forfeit certain assets believed to be related to the crime. If you are facing federal charges, you are likely at risk of having your property seized. There are steps an attorney can take to help prevent this, so it is best to get in contact with one as soon as you learn you are being charged. 

What Assets Can Be Seized in Criminal Forfeiture?

The goal behind criminal asset forfeiture is to disrupt criminal operations by confiscating the tools of the trade or by seizing their profits. The other purpose is to discourage crime - if you get caught, you lose your illicit earnings. If you are convicted of a federal crime, the government could take anything that it proves by a preponderance of the evidence represents the proceeds of a crime. 

This includes not just money it believes you earned from the crime, but also anything you have purchased with that money. Anything from your house to your bank account could be forfeited after a conviction. Criminal forfeiture is, however, limited in scope to only include assets related to the crime you are being sentenced for. So if you are being sentenced for bank fraud, criminal forfeiture would not reach money the government suspects you earned as a small-time drug dealer. 

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chicago criminal defense lawyerCrime is increasingly committed over the internet. Especially during the pandemic, more and more white-collar criminals are turning to forms of fraud or theft that can be carried out online. One unfortunate side effect is that it is also increasingly easy to inadvertently stumble into illegal activity on the web, often out of naivete. The FBI has recently stepped up its enforcement of internet crimes, making internet-based prosecutions increasingly common. If you are facing federal prosecution for any internet-based crime, it is important that you take the charges very seriously and immediately get in contact with a criminal defense attorney. 

What Federal Internet Crimes Are Most Common?

Crimes like theft, which used to require an in-person action, can now be done from the comfort of one’s own desk. This has moved the FBI’s battle against crime from the field to the internet. For an unlucky few, this can lead to unreasonable charges for an unintentional online misstep. Some common federal internet crimes are: 

  • Fraud - Bank fraud, mortgage fraud, and credit card fraud are often committed online these days. A lot of financial paperwork is now done via an app or website, increasing opportunities for cybercriminals to be dishonest. 

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Posted by on in Federal Crimes

chicago internet crimes defense lawyerCopyright violations are usually thought of as strictly a civil matter. Most people and businesses expect that if they use a copyrighted work without permission, they are likely to be sued and will probably have to pay the copyright owner civil damages. Copyright violations can be a federal crime, however. These intellectual property thefts are often a type of internet crime in modern times. Some people do not learn that copyright violations can be a criminal offense until they are being arrested for it. If this has happened to you, you will need an aggressive defense attorney to begin building your best defense as soon as possible. 

When is a Copyright Violation a Federal Crime?

It is true that copyright violations are usually handled in civil court. Not every case of intellectual property theft attracts the attention of the government. However, these prosecutions can and do occur. Copyright violations are a type of intellectual property theft. Under federal law, using, copying, or distributing a copyrighted work without the owner’s permission is a crime if it is done on purpose and for financial gain. 

The retail value of the unlawfully copied work must reach $1,000 before misdemeanor charges apply, so there is some leeway for very minor incidents. A felony may be charged if the value exceeds $2,500. Copyright violations that do not elicit any profit and were not intended to elicit any profit fall outside the purview of the statute. Copying or distributing a protected work is not a crime unless it was done for profit. This includes direct financial gain, such as by selling illegal copies of a movie, but it also includes more indirect gain, such as using stolen intellectual property like a computer program to gain a business advantage. Many prosecutions involve virtual intellectual property like video game designs or computer code stolen by competing companies. 

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