7 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer in Chicago

Criminal offenses should be taken seriously, whether they will be the start of your criminal record or an addition to a laundry list of charges. Regardless of the number of offenses that you have in your past, you should take immediate action when you are charged with a crime. Federal offenses are actions that violate U.S. federal laws, and those who face these types of charges may be investigated by government agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Offenses prosecuted at the federal level can include sex crimes, drug trafficking, weapons charges, white collar crimes, and more.

Compared to state crimes, federal offenses often carry much heavier penalties, making it even more critical to work with an attorney who is experienced in federal criminal defense.

The federal and state government each have their own court systems. Federal court judges are nominated by the president, approved by the Senate, and serve for life. Being charged with a federal crime can be intimidating, and more than 90% of individuals prosecuted in the federal court are convicted of their charges. In these cases, hiring a Chicago federal criminal defense attorney is crucial.

They Do Not Focus on Criminal Defense

Based on a law firm’s website, it becomes fairly obvious which practice areas they highlight and what their strong suit is. You should be searching for an attorney who has a reputation of success in the criminal defense field. Attorneys with very little experience defending against criminal charges will not have the same number of strategies at their disposal. Each attorney will likely have their own bio page which highlights their accomplishments and successes in the field. Talking time to read these website pages can help you get a sense of their experience in criminal defense.

Not Shopping Around

Most attorneys offer free consultations for a reason, and you should take advantage of these opportunities. Engaging in a free consultation by no means guarantees that you will be hiring the attorney, but it will give you the opportunity to personally speak with the lawyer and determine their personality and work ethic. You may want to speak to multiple criminal defense lawyers and ask about their previous work with cases similar to yours. If they have extensive experience defending people in a similar position as yours, and you believe they have the right personality to address your needs, they may be the right lawyer for you.

Taking a Chance on Someone New

While it may seem admirable to work with a young, fresh attorney, it is always best to place your trust in a criminal defense lawyer with a long resume to back up their claims. A criminal defense case can be one of the most serious situations that you may ever face, and your fate rests on the abilities of your attorney. Older, more reputable lawyers may not have the young, modern outlook of a new attorney, but their litigation experience has a better chance of leaving you with a smaller sentence or a not-guilty verdict.

Not Understanding Federal vs. State Cases

Because state and federal court systems differ, it is imperative that you hire an attorney who is well-versed in federal cases. Federal courts have different policies and procedures, such as retaining the same judge throughout the entire trial. The amount of evidence available in federal cases will often far outweigh what is used in state proceedings. This can allow your attorney to access additional information to strengthen your case. Without a criminal defense lawyer who is familiar with the federal courts, you will likely not have as strong of a case, and you may not be able to utilize the resources available to their fullest extent.

Failure to Perform a Background Check

While you may not need to perform a complete background check, you should utilize your online resources to do some more research into your potential attorney. Their website will highlight their successes and achievements, but it will likely leave out any information about infractions or instances of misconduct that they may have in their past. You should take a look at client reviews and legal directories for a more honest and detailed view of a lawyer’s work and reputation.

Ignoring Your Instincts

The trusty “gut feeling” that you have probably turned to when making decisions in the past is just as relevant when it comes to hiring a criminal defense lawyer. When speaking with a potential attorney, you will be able to pick up on any possible scams, lies, or personality disconnects that you may notice. Remember, you are placing your future in the hands of someone else. You should be sure that you work well together and that you fully trust their judgment.

No Clarification on Fees

One of the biggest concerns that people face when they hire an attorney is the possibility that they will not be able to afford the attorney’s services after they have already started working together. It is important to be upfront about what you can and cannot afford. Having to find a new criminal defense attorney in the middle of your case because your current one is too expensive can leave you wasting time and money in building a new defense strategy.

If you are facing criminal charges, it is imperative that you promptly begin searching for a Chicago Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer to work with, keeping in mind the common mistakes discussed above. Whether you are facing charges related to drug trafficking, fraud, or other federal crimes, an experienced attorney can advise you on how you should proceed.

Attorney Hal M. Garfinkel has been practicing criminal defense law for more than two decades. He has defended clients facing a wide variety of charges, including federal white collar crimes, drug crimes, and other serious offenses, and he has provided representation in a number of high-profile criminal cases.

Determining the Criminalisation of Non-Reporting of Unlawful Activities

This blog covers the understanding of mandatory reporting of crime about unlawful or suspicious behaviour. It also examines the view of the two different schools regarding the criminalisation of non-reporting of crime. It additionally analyses the advantages and disadvantages of both the school. The blog also delves into the crucial ingredients of such mandatory legislation if passed. Lastly, it diverts the reader to the conditions imposed if it is made criminal to fail to report and conclusion keeping the above context in mind.

Understanding Unlawful Activities 

Unlawful activity implies participation as a front or to request, demand, direct, or deliberately help someone else to take part in an activity that would comprise any offense by law. An unlawful activity would incorporate physical brutality, burglary, theft, assault, murder, or homicide. These are the kinds of offenses that would consequently be culpable under different systems of law across the globe. A suspicious action is a strange event in one’s neighbourhood under the ordinary course of circumstances. For instance, people lingering around schools, recreational areas, or disconnected zones could be sex offenders. Ordinarily, there is no criminal risk for neglecting to act or report in a specific circumstance.

Determining the Criminalisation of Non-Reporting of Unlawful Activities

Current System of Criminal Law 

A fundamental principle of criminal law is that for a person to be blameworthy of wrongdoing, he should firstly carry out a deliberate demonstration that results in cultural damage, an actus reus, and then have a liable perspective, a mens rea.[i] Resistance to a proposition for extending the obligation to report unlawful activity depends on both substantive and procedural concerns. The essential substantive contentions are that because an inability to act does not cause hurt, no-obligation ought to join without misfeasance, and positive obligations would both meddle with individual freedoms. They will adversely influence society by requiring selfless conduct[ii] except if one discerns blame[iii] as a blanket. This consistent classification applies to every circumstance. One needs to evaluate each demonstration separately.

Furthermore, that implies the awful demonstration of not reporting an unlawful activity is not equivalent to the terrible demonstration of effectively committing injury. It can be argued that people might have morals if they are apprehended about an arrest or some criminal liability in case, they fail to report a suspicious episode. Regardless of whether people ought to be lawfully committed to act or render help to anybody and everybody in risk has been and stays a questionable and intense subject matter.

Another factor that makes mandatory reporting of crimes sceptical is that the police may mishandle such an offense by utilizing it to apply pressure on the families and partners of suspects despite the many immunities and protection provided by the law against such exploitation.

Obligation to Report Crime 

The state is a labyrinth whose ends incorporate the security of its individuals from criminal savagery and various injuries. Each inhabitant has a fundamental right to seek protection from society. Consequently, the individual commits to helping in this limited capacity to protect a kindred resident in peril. The motivation behind reporting an unlawful activity is to improve the security of unfortunate casualties with the end goal of guaranteeing that the crisis administrations are informed about the commission of the offenses.

It can be duly submitted that an obligation to report a crime would incorporate a utilitarian concept that such a responsibility would advance the welfare of the general public as a whole, an ethical commitment tying the knot between morality and legality that the law ought to reflect moral standards. “The broader question is whether this should be a general duty applicable to all serious crimes, or a specific duty concerning crimes against vulnerable people such as children and the mentally disadvantaged.?”.[iv] Good Samaritan laws were created as an attempt to motivate people to help fellow citizens and fight against crime even without a legal obligation to the same.[v] However, it failed to stand up to its expectations. In this spirit, it can be assumed that a person who breaks this commitment can appropriately be held liable in criminal law but only in limited circumstances.

In many states of the United States of America’s inability to report suspicious activity is unlawful. However, a few states have established laws rebuffing people who omit to report specific kinds of violations to the authorities. In Ohio, for example, it is unlawful to disregard to report a lawful offense intentionally. Under Texas law, however, one can be accused of a Class A misdemeanour for not reporting an offense that is substantial enough to cause severe bodily damage or death. In Minnesota, on the other hand, there’s a duty to assist, and anybody at the location of a crisis who realizes that somebody has endured grave physical mischief, or could be harmed must provide prudent aid. Uzbek President Islam Karimov brought a new law where an individual can be held criminally liable if the person doesn’t provide data regarding terrorist attacks to the concerned authorities.

A New Challenge? 

With the heightening division of work and interdependency of social exercises, governing bodies have fortified administrative obligations of the private sectors to report crimes. The laws progressively require a more extensive scope of the private sector to act in an increasingly proactive way to distinguish and discourage wrongdoing while at the same time punishing its inability to report violations. Nevertheless, this new shift in focus to a person who does not report an unlawful activity has prompted a disregard of conventional culpability-based criminal law system. Even an innocent outsider who unfortunately became witness to the suspicious activity can be held criminally liable in the new domain.

It can be inferred from the various practices of law across the world as discussed above that there should be mandatory reporting of unlawful or suspicious activities in specific situations like grave offences like murder, terrorism, homicide, in heinous sexual offences like rape and abuse of children and to elderly or mentally challenged people who are incapable of taking care of themselves.

There has to be clarity while framing regulations and laws regarding reporting of unlawful activity in a way that there is no scope of ambiguity. The laws detailing crime reporting ought to contain ‘knowledge’ as an essential ingredient, including constructive knowledge as a prerequisite. They should likewise state with disposing of the activities that make it mandatory to report to the authority. Whether it imposes the duty on the public or specific people bound by the obligation to report, the time frame inside which observes must report the wrongdoing. If the statute provides any immunity to people who report such incidents and if there are any exceptions to such reporting that one may seek as a defence.

Conclusion

People in general are ignorant of their lawful commitment concerning reporting an unlawful activity. Some would prefer not to get included in the system by a paranoid fear of turning into an unfortunate casualty themselves. Others may feel they have an ethical commitment to react as a Good Samaritan and uncover offenders for their bad behaviour. Regardless, there is a significant contrast between a sentiment of moral obligation and a lawful obligation to act. There exist both lawful and customary reasons against a legitimately authorized obligation to report unlawful activities. These reasons uncover their inefficacy and put forth a dream of a system that is most likely to function in a utopian world. As ethically revolting as one may discover a refusal to report a crime, the truth is that an individual has no lawful obligation, duty, or commitment to do the same yet.

It is difficult to enforce mandatory reporting in case of every unlawful activity, as it could cause chaos and uncertainty. It would further pose the question of dealing with false reporting and legislating laws to tackle such situations where people are motivated enough to report activities, as mentioned earlier. However, refraining from using it as a tool of misuse against other civilians with personal grudges. There should be a balance between public policy and personal liberty.

[i]Robinson PH, Criminal Law Defenses (West 1984)

[ii]Nozick R, Anarchy, State, and Utopia (Basic Books 1974)

[iii]Melody J Stewart, ‘How Making the Failure to Assist Illegal Fails to Assist: An Observation of Expanding Criminal Omission Liability’ (1998) 25 Am J Crim L 385

[iv]Ashworth A, Positive Obligations in Criminal Law (Hart Publishing 2013)

[v]Tunson J, ‘What Does the Law Say to Good Samaritans? A Review of Good Samaritan Statutes in 50 States and on US Airlines.’ (2014) 46 The Journal of Emergency Medicine 153

 

Prerna Deep is the recipient of the British Council’s Great Scholarship for pursuing LLM in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice at the University of Edinburgh. She holds LL.B. from Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi, and English Honours from Miranda House, University of Delhi. As an avid reader and writer, Prerna has authored several Nationally and Internationally published research papers and is currently a Senior Associate Editor at the Indian Society for Legal Research.

5 Duties of a Personal Defence Lawyer

Are you in need of a defence lawyer? If so, it’s essential to know what your lawyer is obligated to do for you. If you’re seeing your lawyer isn’t living up to their duties, you want to start looking for another one. You can end up losing your personal defence case in the event of mishandling. But the first step is to know when your lawyer is neglecting the obligated duties.

Here’s a list of things that your lawyer should do:

 

  • Careful Examination of the Case

Your lawyer should be putting in the time to really dig into the case. You should know what kind of approach will be taken, given examples of similar cases, have laws interpreted to you, and honest opinion of your chances of winning the case. Whether the charge is your fault and the odds look slim, the criminal defence lawyer should always provide all the available options.

  • Put Effort Into Getting Evidence

In many criminal defence cases, it can come down to evidence, even circumstantial evidence. Your lawyer should be looking for evidence to defend the charge and prove a false accusation, if that’s what is happening. The process may include going through things like photos, cell phone records, videos, and more.

There should be an outreach for witnesses if they were any, and follow-ups to ensure their participation. If you feel like your defence attorney is not putting effort into gathering information and evidence, then the attorney is not taking your case seriously enough. It may be time to talk to another attorney, or you’re going to have a weak defence in court.

  • Giving You Full Representation in Court

The criminal defence lawyer should represent you throughout the entire court process. You want to feel like care is occurring. If your lawyer is not showing up at many points of the process or relegating another person in their firm when the lawyer promised to give your case the attention it deserves, it’s a red flag.

  • Regular Updates Throughout the Case

Your lawyer should update you as the case progresses. There may be new information, different charges, and other information that can affect your case. It’s your lawyer’s job to make sense of everything and communicate the information to you in a way that’s easy to understand. You want to feel like your lawyer is giving you the attention you expect.

  • Negotiate Deals

There are many cases where the odds are against you. Your lawyer should be honest about your chances and work to mitigate the consequences of a guilty charge. The lawyer should try to negotiate a plea deal, work out a settlement with the plaintiff, or try to go for a lesser charge.

And aside from performing their duties, you still want to think about how you’d go about finding a competent lawyer. You want to see that the lawyer has handled cases like yours. You want to see that the lawyer has a good track record of winning cases for clients. And you want full transparency about the process, fees, and legal issues so that you know what to expect.

These are just some of the many things that a personal defence lawyer should do for you. Again, you must know what your lawyer should do for you to ensure you’re getting the best service. You want to know that you’re going to get a fair shot at defending yourself, especially when the stakes are high.

Find top rated attorneys and law firms profiles with Find Attorneys Directory, the best and free online attorney directory. Guest bloggers can also publish their articles here as other bloggers are doing.

Underage Drinking and Driving Charges in Ohio

Ohio, like every other state, makes it illegal for anyone younger than 21 to purchase alcohol. Consuming and possessing alcohol in public before reaching the age of 21 are also criminal offenses.

It only makes sense, then, that police, prosecutors, and judges in Ohio take charges of operating a vehicle after underage alcohol consumption very seriously. A first-time conviction for driving under the influence while below the legal drinking age can bring all of the following penalties: Read more

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5 Kinds of Attorneys You Need at Some time in Your Life

Are you looking for an attorney that can be of great help for solving your legal issues? However, what type of attorney you are searching for. Now, there are several kinds of attorney. The legal field is really very complex as well as large. You will discover that different attorneys specialize in different areas. That’s the reason why there are different attorneys, and whatever may be your legal issue, there’s an attorney who is an expert in dealing with a particular issue. Read more

John Barret is a blogger with the Elder Law Center of Wisconsin from the past four years. He is a law graduate in the US and enjoys writing about different legal processes, aspects of the laws, and the significance of having an attorney.

A Washington DC Criminal Attorney Explains Stop-and-Frisk

DC police recently came under fire for allegedly staging the search of a man whom residents believed was an undercover officer in order to justify illegal stop-and-frisks in the neighborhood.  The incident occurred on June 13th, when officers approached and searched a man on the 5200 block of Sheriff Road, NE.  Officers found a gun in the man’s possession, which residents say they then used as an excuse to illegally search other people in the area, without just cause.  Witnesses said they did not recognize the man with the gun, and believe he was a police plant. Read more

Find top rated attorneys and law firms profiles with Find Attorneys Directory  Publish articles here as other bloggers are doing.

Apps Streamline Crime Reporting, But Criminal Defense Attorney Sherman TX Warns of Abuse

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced the launch of a new smartphone app aimed at combatting crime earlier this month.  Called “iWatchTexas” (a name notable for its affinity to the iconic “’i” prefix Apple uses), the app allows members of the public to anonymously report suspicious behavior directly to law enforcement. Read more

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How Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help You

If you have been accused of a crime, you know how terrifying it is to face the possibility of going to jail. The function of a criminal defense lawyer is to represent anyone accused of committing a crime to the best of their abilities. Read more

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Can You Get in Trouble for Driving While High on Marijuana?

Ohio law treats driving while impaired by marijuana the same as driving under the influence of alcohol. State statutes refer to both alleged criminal offenses as operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OVI), and courts impose the same types of penalties regardless of whether a person gets convicted of driving while drunk or high. Read more

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Drawbacks to Getting Your License Suspended

Losing your license is more than an inconvenience. Being unable to drive legally can make it impossible to keep a job or meet all your personal and family obligations.

Unfortunately, Ohio courts and statutes recognize more than 30 reasons to suspend a driver’s license. The punishment can apply to everything from leaving the scene of an accident, letting your auto insurance policy expire, failing to pay child support, getting convicted of operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OVI), which is what state officials call driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and much more. AVOID AN OVI CONVICTION ON YOUR RECORD Read more

Hiring an experienced Columbus DUI attorney to fight an OVI charge is a must if you drive for a living.