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Everyday Identity Theft: Three Common Forms of Credit Card Fraud

Joliet Lawyer Marijuana Pot Possession Identity theft , in all of its various forms, is an increasingly growing problem all across the nation, causing consumers and business owners alike to sit up and take note of such troublesome trends. CBS News announced that in 2014 alone, IBM reported that more than one billion records containing personal information were leaked. Additionally, identity theft was the number one complaint to the Federal Trade Commission in 2014 and continues to be a major complaint year after year.

Are You Guilty?

With identity theft cases on the rise, more and more victims are speaking out in order to protect their money, credit, and reputation. Credit card theft is especially prevalent, and it comes as a surprise to many that serious credit card theft is not limited to seasoned criminals. In fact, many people unknowingly commit credit card theft or merely blur the lines with their actions with the hopes that a few little white lies won’t actually count as credit card theft . If you have ever even vaguely wondered if your credit card use is legally permissible, chances are you may be guilty of some form of fraudulent activity.

The Most Common Forms of Credit Card Fraud

Regardless of your intentions, if you have done any of the following , you may be in danger of facing charges for identity theft:

1. Request a refund with or without deceitful intent - Even if you forgot about a charge you indeed made to your credit card, calling the credit card company to request a refund for that charge if you actually made the purchase is considered fraud. Also known as chargeback fraud, this practice is often deliberately used by those wishing to profit twofold from merchandise purchases. They not only have the money they originally spent returned to them but they also keep the merchandise. If you ever report an unauthorized purchase and request to have the funds credited back to you, check to make sure the purchase was not one that you made.

2. Provide false information - Even the smallest lie on a credit application can land you in legal hot water if you are not careful. Many people found guilty of credit card fraud have embellished information on their applications regarding their income amounts, place of employment, and even their age. Intentionally providing false or misleading information on an application can result in a number of penalties, including up to fifteen years of imprisonment, hefty fines, and a range of criminal charges.

3. Claim Someone Else’s Pre-Approved Credit Offer - It does not matter if your brother discarded a pre-approved credit application letter he received in the mail - if you claim that pre-approval letter as your own and open the account under his information, you are committing fraud. Pretending to be someone else, even if you have that person’s permission to use their personal information, is never permissible by law. This standard also applies to other credit card activity, such as using someone else’s credit card at the store or signing on someone’s behalf.

If you have knowingly or unwittingly committed some form of credit card fraud, it is important to speak with a skilled Joliet criminal law attorney to protect your rights and minimize the damage to your record and reputation. Call the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today at 815-740-4025 for a free consultation.

Illinois Decriminalizes Low-Level Marijuana Possession

Joliet Lawyer Marijuana Pot PossessionA recent study by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch included some staggering statics about drug possession charges. According to the study, every 25 seconds , a person is arrested for a drug crime. The rates of arrest for possession or use of drugs has increased dramatically since President Nixon’s “War on Drugs” press conference in June of 1971. A significant portion of arrests made since then has been for marijuana possession . In fact, according to the Washington Post , marijuana-related arrests occur more often than all arrests for violent crimes combined.

Growing Problems

The high rate of non-violent drug crime arrests has led many around the country to question the effectiveness and the necessity of such drastic measures. Prison overpopulation has become a major concern in many states, including Illinois. Observers and advocates for change point out that those convicted of non-violent drug possession offenses continue to take up prison space that could be used to house more dangerous, violent offenders.

Changing Landscape

In the state of Illinois, the official approach to marijuana has begun to evolve in recent years, beginning with the approval of a medical marijuana program back in 2013. This summer, lawmakers made a significant statement on the matter by approving a measure that decriminalized low-level possession of marijuana. An offense that could once be charged as a misdemeanor is now the rough equivalent of a parking ticket in Illinois.

According to the new law, possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana is still illegal but will result in the issuance of a citation which carries fines of between $100 and $200. Individual municipalities have the freedom to add additional fines and penalties, including the requirement to attend drug counseling or treatment. Marijuana citations are also expunged automatically every six months, on January 1 and July 1, meaning that low-level possession offenses will not follow an offender forever.

DUI Standards

The new law also provides the state’s first standard for impaired driving related to marijuana. Despite studies suggesting that such standards have no scientific validity, a driver found to have 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood or 10 nanograms per milliliter of saliva in his or her system can be charged with driving under influence of marijuana.

Let Us Help

If you have been charged with possession of marijuana or DUI related to the drug, contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney . Call 815-740-4025 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today. We are equipped to provide the responsible, affordable representation you need to protect your future and your rights.

Illinois Felony Punishment Breakdown

Joliet Felony Criminal Charges AttorneyAre you facing felony charges ? A felony is any crime that is punishable by at least one year in an Illinois state prison. Misdemeanor charges, on the other hand, include a prison sentence of a year or less, depending on the severity. If you are facing felony charges, it is important that you consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. With prison time and hefty fines on the line, a guilty verdict can be life changing.

Under Illinois law , felonies are categorized based on the severity of the crime committed. In general, the less serious the crime is, the less severe the punishment is likely to be. Felonies are broken up into five categories - Class 1 through 4 felonies, followed by Class X, which includes the most severe crimes one can commit aside from first degree murder. If you are facing felony charges, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help determine which class of felony you are being charged with and can help you build as best a defense as possible. Below, we break down the punishments associated with each class of felony in Illinois.

Class 4 Felony

The least serious felony charges one can face are Class 4 felony charges. Examples include stalking and aggravated assault. Being the least serious of all the felony classes in Illinois, Class 4 felony punishments include a fine of up to $25,000 and between 1 and 3 years in jail.

Class 3 Felony

Class 3 felonies are a step up from Class 4, and thus carry harsher sentences. Aggravated battery, for example, is a Class 3 felony, and anyone found guilty of committing a Class 3 felony will face between 2 to 5 years in a state prison as well as fines of up to $25,000.

Class 2 Felony

Class 2 felonies—arson, for example—are very serious. Sentences range from 3 to 7 years in prison along with fines of up to $25,000.

Class 1 Felony

Class 1 felonies include high-level heroin and cocaine possession, as well as other very serious crimes such as criminal sexual assault. The punishment associated with a conviction ranges from 4 to 15 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.

Class X Felony

Class X Felonies are the most serious of all felony charges in Illinois. If found guilty, those who have committed Class X felonies face between 6 to 30 years in state prison as well as fines up to $25,000.

Extended Terms in Illinois

In some cases, a judge may determine that extended sentencing is necessary, and may sentence those found guilty of committing a felony to more than the typical prison time associated with the class of felony. Aggravating factors must be present for a judge to add extended terms. For example, a past criminal history , or being involved in a hate crime, would both warrant potential extended terms. Even a Class 4 felony, which is usually punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison, can be extended to up to 6 years if aggravating factors are present. At the top of the list, a Class X felony with extended terms can be punishable by up to 60 years of incarceration.

Facing Charges?

Are you facing felony charges? A felony of any class can be life changing, so it is important that you consult with an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney who can help build a strong defense. At the Law Office Jack L. Zaremba, our team has years of success defending clients from a variety of charges. Mr. Zaremba himself is a former prosecutor who understands the Illinois legal system. Call 815-740-4025 today to set up a free consultation with us to review your case.

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