Latest from Hal M. Garfinkel Blog - Page 3

First, there was the term ‘photobombing,’ and now there is a new phrase floating around called ‘Zoom bombing,’ While hackers, like those that intrude into photos when they are not welcome, may think that these hijinks are funny, they are actually a crime. And because it involves computer technology, it is considered a federal offense. These crimes come with serious penalties and could have lifelong impacts on those convicted.
What Is Zoom?
Zoom is a cloud-based video service that allows you to meet virtually with other people. Like Skype and FaceTime, it allows people to talk to each other while
Continue Reading Think Zoom Bombing Is Funny? It Could Get You Arrested

Many people have heard the term contempt of court, whether on a television show, movie, or perhaps even in real life. While this term is often used in state court, many people also do not understand that this offense can be considered a federal crime. In fact, the federal statutes have many pieces of law pertaining to contempt of court, and they can all become complex. It is for this reason that, if you are facing contempt of court charges, you must work with a criminal defense attorney that is familiar with federal offenses, and knows how to defend
Continue Reading When Is Contempt of Court a Federal Offense?

Facing federal charges is a very upsetting and confusing thing. You may not know why you are being accused of the offense, and you are likely very stressed out about your future. All of these are very natural reactions, but they can lead people to take the wrong types of action. These actions can be very detrimental to a case, and even cost a person their future. If you have been charged with a federal crime, it is important to know what the most common mistakes made are, so you can avoid making them yourself.
Taking Your Case to Social
Continue Reading Common Mistakes Made by Federal Defendants

ATM fraud is sometimes considered a state crime, but it is often charged on the federal level because banks are federally regulated and typically suffer harm as a result of the fraud. Other charges also often accompany charges of ATM fraud, including wire fraud, identity theft, larceny, bank fraud, and credit card fraud. To avoid a conviction for any of these charges, and for ATM fraud, it is always important to speak to a federal criminal defense lawyer that can help.
Types of ATM Fraud
There are many different ways to commit ATM fraud. The most common types of ATM
Continue Reading The Common Types of ATM Fraud

The coronavirus has touched everyone in the country in some way, even those that have never tested positive or become exposed to the virus. Now, President Trump has signed an executive order making price gouging illegal. Under the Defense Production Act, which was enacted in 1950 and invoked by Trump recently to force manufacturers such as GM to create personal protective equipment, the President has also made it illegal to hoard that same equipment.
Hoarding and Price Gouging
Hoarding is a federal crime and by invoking the Defense Production Act, federal agents now have the ability to find those that
Continue Reading Hoarding and Price Gouging Now a Crime as Trump Invokes DPA

It is widely known that when a person is convicted of certain sex crimes, they must register on either a state or federal sex registry, or both. It is natural for people to want to avoid this registration. It can be embarrassing and make people feel ashamed, even if they were innocent of the crime and wrongly convicted. However, few people wonder what the consequences are for failing to register on a sex offender registry. A recent story involving a celebrity highlights just how serious this action could be.
Legal Troubles for Nicki Minaj’s Husband
It was in early
Continue Reading Convicted Sex Offenders Must Register or Face Federal Charges

When a person has been charged with a federal crime, there are many consequences they will face. These include jail time, high fines, and a permanent criminal record. However, some individuals may be able to get a pardon. Pardons are available at the state and federal level. When someone is granted a pardon from the state, they are given by the governor of that state. Under Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, federal crimes can only be pardoned by the President of the United States. Below is some information about presidential pardons and how they work.
Continue Reading What Is a Presidential Pardon?

Recently, a man in Birmingham pleaded guilty to tax evasion for failing to pay $1.3 million in taxes. John P. Cooney filed false returns in 2011 and the returns were for the three years prior. Cooney was accused of failing to pay $780,000 to the IRS and instead, created a fraudulent company that he then used to conceal his salary and returns from his investments. In addition to facing up to five years in prison, he is also now required to pay $1.3 million in penalties.
The story is an interesting one and a good reminder as Americans head into
Continue Reading A Reminder About Tax Evasion in Tax Season

In early February, a man entered a plea deal after being accused of setting fires to three different churches in Louisiana. Now he faces a number of state and federal charges. Among the federal charges he is facing, one is intentional damage to religious property, which is a hate crime under the Church Arson Prevention Act.
Damaging Religious Property Defined
According to Title 18, U.S.C., Section 247, damaging religious property is defined as damaging, defacing, or destroying property due to its religious nature. This last element of the offense is very important. In order to be considered a hate
Continue Reading Why Damaging Religious Property Is a Hate Crime

There is a lot that happens in a federal investigation and much of the time, a person does not even realize they are being investigated until they receive a target letter in the mail. Target letters are very intimidating and can strike fear in the hearts of anyone that receives one. After receiving a target letter, it is also natural to wonder what you should do next. So, what is a target letter and what does it mean for you?
What Is a Target Letter?
During a federal investigation, there are three categories federal agencies will place people into. These
Continue Reading Target Letters, and What to Do if You Receive One

When the FBI announced this past year that bank fraud was on the rise, it did not come as a surprise to many. Today, information is kept on servers and computers, which skilled hackers can learn how to access to commit fraud. Unfortunately, not everyone charged and arrested for bank fraud is guilty. Overzealous law enforcement officials often charge the wrong person in pursuit of making arrests and helping the prosecution with securing a conviction.
Due to this overeagerness, there are many people that need a strong defense against bank fraud charges. Some of the most common defenses used are
Continue Reading Reported Bank Fraud May on the Rise

In early January, former Congressman Chris Collins was sentenced by a federal judge to over two years in prison for insider trading and making false statements to federal agents. The former congressman told his son that the results from the clinical trial conducted by Innate Immunotherapeutics were negative. Armed with the tip, Collins’ son sold his shares, and many others followed. Along with the jail time, the judge also sentenced him to a fine of $200,000.
Collins admitted to what he had done, saying that he was a disgrace to not only his son, but also the constituents he once
Continue Reading Defenses to Insider Trading