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Mail Fraud Is a Federal Felony Charge
Any crime of fraud that uses the United States Postal Service in any way whatsoever will be considered an independent violation of federal law – and this has been true since the 1870s. Most defendants, therefore, will fight federal charges of “mail fraud” alongside other criminal charges (such as health care fraud, tax fraud, etc.).
Sometimes this is a strategy of prosecutors who want to add as many criminal charges as they can to their case against the defendant. In other situations, federal prosecutors (Assistant United States Attorneys) will charge someone with “mail fraud” when they do not feel they have a strong enough case to prosecute on other crimes they have investigated, or they use the federal mail fraud statute as a way to get a fraud case into federal court.
Either way, these are federal cases involving the stringent federal penalties that come with federal felony convictions under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Mail fraud is a serious charge.
Title 18 of the United States Code Section 1341 defines “mail fraud” as:
Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, or to sell, dispose of, loan, exchange, alter, give away, distribute, supply, or furnish or procure for unlawful use any counterfeit or spurious coin, obligation, security, or other article, or anything represented to be or intimated or held out to be such counterfeit or spurious article, for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice or attempting so to do, places in any post office or authorized depository for mail matter, any matter or thing whatever to be sent or delivered by the Postal Service, or deposits or causes to be deposited any matter or thing whatever to be sent or delivered by any private or commercial interstate carrier, or takes or receives therefrom, any such matter or thing, or knowingly causes to be delivered by mail or such carrier according to the direction thereon, or at the place at which it is directed to be delivered by the person to whom it is addressed, any such matter or thing, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If the violation occurs in relation to, or involving any benefit authorized, transported, transmitted, transferred, disbursed, or paid in connection with, a presidentially declared major disaster or emergency (as those terms are defined in section 102 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5122)), or affects a financial institution, such person shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.
Basing its position on federal court precedent, the United States Office of the Attorney General holds that the following two elements make up the charge of federal mail fraud:
- having devised or intending to devise a scheme to defraud (or to perform specified fraudulent acts), and
- use of the mail for the purpose of executing, or attempting to execute, the scheme (or specified fraudulent acts).
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Defending Against Federal Charges of Mail Fraud
For those being investigated for mail fraud, there are usually other allegations involved that require lots of documents and background research in order to build both the case for the prosecution as well as a strong defense against the criminal charges that are ultimately made. These are multifaceted fraud cases.
Mail fraud cases can be complicated and sophisticated, and often not only an experienced fraud defense lawyer will be needed, but industry experts in fields like banking, investment securities, real estate finance, insurance, or other financial areas will be required to make sense of the prosecution’s case and to comb through all the documents, witness testimony, and outside research to thwart the AAG’s charges and support a successful defense.
Texas Mail Fraud Defense Lawyer
As a former prosecutor turned criminal defense lawyer with over 150 jury trials defending clients against charges brought by district attorneys and U.S. federal prosecutors in Dallas County, Tarrant County, and elsewhere in the State of Texas, Board Certified Criminal Lawyer Michael Lowe not only brings his years of experience to each case, he also dedicates 100% of his law practice to the defense of those being accused of a crime under Texas or federal law.
With a streamlined law firm that coordinates its efforts to give each client the personal attention that they need and deserve when fighting against the government and the possibility of jail time, fines, permanent marks on public records, prison incarceration, loss of licensure, loss of jobs, absence from family events and everyday living, Michael Lowe maintains an efficient and excellent criminal trial practice that is ready to help you or your loved ones in your defense against criminal charges from pre-arrest investigation to post-trial appeals.
To discuss your case in a free and completely confidential consultation, please contact Dallas Board Certified Criminal Lawyer Michael Lowe today.