The crime of fraud is broadly defined as an act where a person or a company uses false information to collect money or other benefits. Mail fraud encompasses any type of fraud perpetrated through the United States Postal Service and is governed by 18 USC 63 of the United States Code. The mail fraud statute was first enacted in 1872 to prohibit illicit mailings with the Postal Service (formerly the Post Office) for the purpose of executing a fraudulent scheme. In 1994 Congress expanded the use of the mails to include any parcel that is "sent or delivered by a private or commercial interstate carrier." As a result of these amendments, the mail fraud statute has become a broad act for prosecution of dishonest and fraudulent activities, as long as those crimes involve the mails or an interstate carrier. Mail fraud may be committed against and by both businesses and individuals, and includes charges of bank fraud, identity theft, investment fraud, or tax fraud. Often times, the prosecution will seek mail fraud indictments against defendants in cases where they have insufficient evidence for an alternative charge. Charges of mail fraud may also be added on to other charges such as tax fraud, bank fraud, mortgage fraud, health care fraud, and securities fraud, in order to increase potential sentences for defendants. If you are charged or investigated for a mail fraud offense, your first concern should be adequate legal representation by an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorney.
In order for the prosecution to secure a conviction for the federal crime of mail fraud, they must be able to prove four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant knowingly devised or participated in a scheme to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations or promises;
- The false or fraudulent pretenses, representations or promises related to a material fact;
- The defendant acted willfully with an intent to defraud; and
- The defendant used the United States Postal Service by mailing or by causing to be mailed or the defendant used a private or commercial interstate carrier by depositing or causing to be deposited with such carrier some matter or thing for the purpose of executing the scheme to defraud. Schmuck v. United States.
A conviction for mail fraud can carry severe and devastating penalties including jail time, heavy fines and a permanent criminal record. Punishment for a conviction under the mail fraud statute will result in a fine, imprisonment for not more than five years, or both. If, however, the violation affects a financial institution, the punishment is more severe: the statute provides that the person shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.Mail Fraud Defense Designed for Your Case
Mail fraud is a serious offense that may result in both state and federal charges. If you have been investigated or charged with a theft crime such as mail fraud, you need an aggressive and experienced Massachusetts mail fraud defense lawyer to fight the charges against you. At the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy, our Massachusetts mail fraud defense firm investigates the federal issues of each mail fraud case thoroughly and strives to construct the most persuasive defense strategy. Ensure your rights are protected and your freedom is secure; contact the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy 24/7 by calling (617) 367-0450 or emailing us directly using our online contact form.