What is Mail Fraud?

Because of its broad application, mail fraud is one of the most commonly pursued federal criminal charges. Generally defined, mail fraud occurs when someone uses the mail system in an attempt to perpetrate a fraudulent scheme. The fines and prison time a person charged with this federal crime faces are daunting to say the least. When so much is on the line, you need trusted criminal defense attorney Ron Herman as your legal counsel.

What Must Be Proven in A Federal Mail Fraud Case?

There are several elements that must be shown to substantiate a federal mail fraud charge. First and foremost, the crime must have involved the use of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) or some other commercial interstate carrier such as FedEx or UPS. The fact that these services involve crossing state lines is what gives federal prosecutors jurisdiction over this type of crime. Be aware of the fact that you do not have to be the one who actually mails a letter to be convicted of mail fraud. If you “used or caused another to use” the mail carrier, that will be enough to substantiate the charge

The intent to commit mail fraud must have been intentional. If it accidentally led to someone losing money, then it would not be considered mail fraud. You must have actually intended to engage in a plan to defraud someone of something of value. It can be enough for a prosecutor to show that the circumstances surrounding the alleged mail fraud support intent. You also do not have to actually be successful in defrauding another. The fact that you attempted to defraud another will be enough. Fraud means you were involved in a scheme to get money or property under false pretenses. Its definition is rather broad and can be found, in full, under 18 U.S. Code, Section 1341.

Also, this may seem like a fine line, but you must have actually intended to defraud someone, not engage in something deceptive. Sometimes you may receive a mailing that looks like it was sent from someone or an entity of the government, but it is not actually the case. Deceptive mailings that actually offer legitimate services or products will usually not be considered to rise to the level of fraud.

If a charge of mail fraud turns into a conviction, you face up to $250,000 in fines and imprisonment for up to 20 years. If the mail fraud is in connection with a presidentially declared major disaster or emergency, or one that effects a financial institution, then enhanced penalties will apply. You could be fined up to $1 million and imprisoned for up to 30 years. You may also face probationary time and the court could order restitution.

Fighting Against Federal Mail Fraud Charges

Facing a federal mail fraud charge may seem like the end, but it isn’t. Yes, it should be taken very seriously and you may be extremely overwhelmed. Contact respected criminal defense Attorney Ron Herman today and get the sound legal counsel you need to get through this.