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Mail and Wire Fraud
United States Code §§ 1341 and 1343 govern the federal crimes of mail and wire fraud, respectively. The mail and wire fraud statutes are the most common weapons used by federal prosecutors due to their simplicity and expansive reach. The statutes prohibit the use of mail and wire, such as telephone, email, and fax, to further a fraudulent scheme. One can be convicted under these statutes even when the underlying scheme has not been completed. Mail and wire fraud are often charged along with more complex charges, such as RICO crimes. Federal prosecutors also sometimes use the mail and wire fraud statutes to address conduct that has not yet been criminalized. One Supreme Court justice has described the mail fraud statute as a “stopgap device” used “to cope with the new varieties of fraud that the ever-inventive American ‘con artist’ is sure to develop.”
The elements of mail fraud, which the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to support a conviction, are as follows: (1) a scheme intended to defraud; and (2) use of mail in the execution of that scheme. The following elements of wire fraud are similar: (1) a scheme intended to defraud; and (2) use of interstate wire communications in furtherance of that scheme. Mail and wire fraud are punishable by imprisonment for up to 20 years or a steep fine, or both. If the fraud affects a financial institution, then the crimes are punishable by imprisonment for up to 30 years. Provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 increased by the statutory maximum imprisonment term for mail and wire fraud violations by four times, a considerable enhancement that significantly raised the stakes for criminal defendants.
Mail and wire fraud charges can arise in a wide variety of contexts. Mail and wire fraud prosecutions often involve diverting public funds for personal use, fraudulent loan schemes, and fraudulent donations and charities. Federal prosecutors have a reputation for involving the federal government in ever-increasing types of fraud cases, prosecutions which do not necessarily belong in federal court. For example, cases involving alleged violations of the mail and wire fraud statutes are all too often prosecuted in federal court even though the content of the mail or wire communication has a tenuous, collateral or non-existent relationship to the scheme. Despite the facial simplicity of the statutes, legal issues in mail and wire fraud cases have become muddled, leaving room for creative defense arguments, as a result of the inconsistent and ill-defined parameters of the statutes.Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud Defense
Experienced criminal defense attorneys are aware of various available defenses to mail and wire fraud charges. One possible defense involves the element requiring proof of a “scheme to defraud,” a nuanced element which has been the subject of much judicial input and attempts at clarification. An experienced defense lawyer might argue that the communication was unrelated to the underlying scheme. Another possible defense involves lack of intent or knowledge. A criminal lawyer may be able to challenge the subject matter jurisdiction, arguing that the case does not belong in federal court in moving to dismiss the indictment or to grant a judgment of acquittal. Each case is different, and you should speak with a lawyer who has experience in federal wire and mail fraud defense about your options in protecting your rights.Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, P.C. 617-263-6800
Stephen Neyman is a Boston attorney with more than two decades of experience in criminal defense. He is well known as one of the most successful and aggressive criminal lawyers in Massachusetts. Attorney Neyman is fearless and understanding in his representation of the criminally accused. He appears in state and federal courts in Massachusetts on a daily basis, and he has extensive experience in federal mail and wire fraud defense. If you have been charged with mail fraud or wire fraud, contact the Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, P.C. You can reach Attorney Neyman’s office by calling 617-263-6800 or by sending an e-mail. Attorney Neyman prides himself on professionalism and superior client service, and he will promptly schedule a time to meet with you to discuss your case. Charges of mail fraud and wire fraud are very serious, and you should act promptly in retaining a smart and skilled attorney to best protect yourself and your future.