A federal mail fraud case is generally described as someone making false representations or promises, with intent to defraud, by use of the mail to execute the scheme.
Mail fraud under 18 U.S.C. § 1341 is closely related to wire fraud under 18 U.S.C. § 1343 where someone intentionally defrauds another person using wire communication, such as the internet.
In order for a federal prosecutor to convict someone of mail fraud, they must be able to prove the defendant made materially false representations or promises with the specific intent to defraud another, and they used the mail to accomplish the fraud.
If convicted of 18 U.S.C. § 1341 mail fraud, it's punishable by up to 20 years in a federal prison, fines, and victim restitution.
Due to the financial impact of mail fraud, federal law enforcement agencies aggressively pursue these cases. Federal agencies like the U.S. Department of Justice and F.B.I. have greater resources and expertise than most state law-enforcement agencies.
They also aggressively pursue and prosecute sophisticated persons and enterprises alleged to have committed serious federal crimes.
In order to give readers a better understanding of mail fraud charges, our federal criminal defense attorneys are providing a detailed review below.
What Is Mail Fraud?
The federal mail fraud statute 18 U.S.C. § 1341 s a complex statute, hard to parse for its elements.
The Supreme Court in its Schmuck opinion held that federal mail fraud has two elements:
- devising or intending to devise a scheme to defraud or perform specified fraudulent acts; and
- using the mail to execute or attempt to execute that scheme or those specified fraudulent acts.
The federal criminal code's next 18 U.S.C. § 1342 adds to the mail fraud crime, using a fictitious name or address in a fraudulent scheme.
The federal mail fraud statute 18 U.S.C. § 1341 can apply to the U.S. Postal Service and private commercial carriers.
Any layperson probably has some sense of what it means to scheme to defraud, but the law gives fraud precise technical definitions.
Many federal statutes define various crimes of fraud and false statements. But Sections 1341 and 1342 referring to fraudulent schemes mean knowing false representations to induce another to rely upon to their detriment, causing that person's loss.
Yes, fraud is a swindle or scam. But given its technical definition, the crime of fraud can apply to many types of people and conduct.
Fraud can apply to otherwise reputable and sophisticated borrowers and lenders, buyers and sellers, and others routinely engaging in serious transactions.
How Can I Fight Federal Mail Fraud Charges?
As with any serious criminal charges, successfully defending 18 U.S.C. § 1341 federal mail fraud charges may depend on relying on and enforcing:
- constitutional rights like the rights to counsel,
- due process, and
- fair and speedy trial,
- rights against self-incrimination, and
- unreasonable search and seizure.
We know how to protect and defend clients based on the exercise of those critical constitutional rights and can help you obtain the court's suppression of evidence and dismissal of charges when federal officials violate those rights.
Yet unlike other federal crimes involving police discovery of drug, weapon, or contraband evidence, or the lineup identification of suspects from eyewitnesses, defending federal mail fraud charges more often requires an aggressive defense of the elements of fraud.
There are many common defenses we can use against federal mail fraud charges, including:
- no fraudulent intent,
- statements were not knowingly false,
- false misrepresentation was not material,
- use of mail not related to fraudulent scheme,
- seized evidence was illegally obtained.
Federal prosecutors must prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt, which is law's highest proof burden.
Challenging Specific Intent Evidence
Federal mail fraud is a guilty-mental-state requirement that means prosecutors must prove the defendant's specific intent that they knew and was thinking or intending to fool another.
While circumstances may suggest what the defendant was thinking, specific-intent evidence is peculiarly within the defendant's control.
We know how to present state-of-mind evidence in defense of federal criminal mail fraud charges. More so, we know how to:
- challenge the prosecution's specific-intent evidence,
- to raise reasonable doubt, and
- to defeat any conviction.
The prosecution must show that the defendant knew that the information conveyed through the mail was false and that the defendant intended that the fraud victim rely on that false information.
Any transaction can include innocuous inaccurate information about which the person sharing the information has no clue as to the inaccuracy, small things that make no difference to the person on the other side of the transaction.
Immaterial and innocent or even careless misstatements of fact cannot generally form the basis for a federal criminal mail fraud charge.
Simply because prosecutors can show an inaccuracy does not make for a supportable mail fraud charge.
The defendant's knowledge, state of mind, and intent, and the materiality of any misstatement to the alleged victim's reliance, are all significant fact issues on which to raise a defense.
Best Defense for Federal Mail Fraud Charges
If you are under investigation or have been accused mail fraud under 18 U.S.C. § 1341, it's crucial to have experienced representation from a federal criminal defense lawyer.
Our law firm partners have the skill, reputation, and resources to handle all types of federal fraud cases, including mail fraud.
Your future and freedom is at stake. Don't depend on counsel that lacks experience in federal criminal proceedings.
Mail fraud cases are often complex and federal prosecutors have almost unlimited resources to pursue a conviction
Eisner Gorin LLP is a nationally recognized criminal defense law firm that represents people in California and throughout the United States.
Our law firm is located at 1999 Avenue of the Stars, 11th Fl., Los Angeles, CA 90067. Contact us for an initial consultation at (877) 781-1570.
Categorised in: Wire Fraud