Chicago Criminal Defense Blog

Expect more white-collar prosecutions in the near future

If you've been watching the headlines, one thing is clear: Federal authorities are starting to go after white-collar criminals (and suspected criminals) in a big way.

In the last month alone, there have been major developments involving the opioid crisis and Purdue Pharma, and big fines were leveled against Goldman Sachs for its involvement in a Malaysian bribery scheme in violation of American laws. Antitrust actions have also recently begun targeting big tech giants like Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter.

Illinois woman pleads guilty in disability fraud case

Naturally, disability fraud is taken very seriously when someone uses it to claim federal benefits or workers' compensation. It's also a crime, however, to just take advantage of people's generosity and other programs geared toward people with disabilities by pretending to be someone you are not -- or to have medical conditions you don't actually have.

A 35-year-old Illinois woman recently pled guilty to one count of mail fraud and four counts of wire fraud related to actions that ultimately defrauded two nonprofit organizations. She admitted to scamming a New York nonprofit agency by falsely claiming to be a breast cancer survivor, lying to at least two companies to obtain a $4,500 triathlon bicycle and posing as someone confined to a wheelchair with spinal muscular atrophy and muscular dystrophy in order to attend a nonprofit camp in Texas for the disabled.

Is it time to revisit the way drug offenders are sentenced?

It's no secret that the prisons in this country are bursting at the seams. The United States has more people in prison than any other country in the world, including China, Russia, Brazil or India. Many of those people sitting behind bars are there due to drug crimes related to their addictions. It's probably not surprising that many of them quickly relapse upon their release.

What may shock you, however, is the fact that almost half of the drug offenders who are released from Illinois prisons end up back behind bars withing just three years.

Why is the U.S. known as the 'incarceration nation?'

The United States isn't the biggest country in the world, nor are its laws the most Draconian. So why does the U.S. continue to have the highest prison population in the world?

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), roughly 2.2 million adults were behind bars in this country in 2016. Here are some of the reasons why:

Meth use is on the rise again, and it's getting deadlier

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is warning Americans that methamphetamine is fast becoming a major problem once again in American communities. Now, however, the already dangerous drug is frequently laced with a potentially lethal addition: fentanyl.

Much of the meth flowing in to parts of Illinois (along with Missouri and Kansas) isn't the home-grown variety that drug dealers used to have. In the last few years, meth has largely been moved into the area by the Jalisco New Generation Cartel in Mexico, and the cartel has figured out a way to produce a drug that is both stronger and cheaper than local operations can make in their home labs.

Do drug sniffing dogs violate your rights?

Police dogs often have various roles. Some can help locate missing children, detect cadavers, chase suspects and sniff out illegal substances. Though most people will praise a dog that helps locate a missing child, the situation can be different when the dog alerts an officer to illegal substances in your vehicle.

You, like many other people, may question the reliability of drug dogs and their ability to accurately alert officers to illegal substances. You may also wonder whether an officer has violated your rights by allowing a drug dog to sniff your vehicle even though you have not given any reason for an officer to suspect that drugs are inside your vehicle.

What is 'attempted' murder?

Murder is just about the most serious criminal charge anybody can face -- and attempted murder is treated no more lightly. If you're convicted of attempted first degree murder, for example, that's a Class X felony that carries a minimum 20-year sentence (with an additional 15 years tacked on if a firearm was used).

What exactly equals an "attempt" to kill someone? Under the law in this state, it's any kind of action that is "a substantial step toward" actual murder combined with the intent to follow through. Unless both of those items are true, you may not be guilty of attempted murder.

Is it illegal to use the company card for personal expenses?

Having a "company card" is a privilege that not every employee gets. Generally speaking, access to a company card is reserved for only the employees that are in the most trusted positions.

While some companies carefully watch the charges that go on those cards, others do not. As long as the balance gets paid and there doesn't seem to be any red flags on the account, companies will sometimes turn a blind eye to the "expenses" their employees charge -- as long as the bill gets paid.

2 found guilty of witness tampering in federal trial

Two people have been convicted of witness tampering -- among other charges -- in a federal drug case. The 46-year-old Michigan man is now facing life in prison. His co-conspirator, a 45-year-old Illinois woman, is facing 20 years behind bars. A third co-conspirator previously entered a guilty plea in the case.

The Michigan man learned the name of the person who assisted investigators in his drug arrest. Enlisting the help of his associates, he managed to contact the witness and asked them not to testify against him. He also found ways to pass information about the witness along to others, including through the use of social media.

What you should know about warrantless car searches

The Fourth Amendment generally protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. Law enforcement officers may, however, lawfully search your vehicle after a traffic stop without a warrant depending on the reason for your detention. Law enforcement officers can also lawfully search your vehicle with a warrant provided that you permit them to do so.

The law provides a person with a lower expectation of privacy inside a car versus in their residence. Police officers may conduct a warrantless search of your vehicle provided that they have probable cause that there's evidence related to a crime located inside of it. They may also search your car if they reasonably believe that they need to protect themselves from possible weapons or harm.

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