Common Examples of Mail and Wire Fraud Offenses

Mail fraud and wire fraud are federal crimes punishable under federal law. If you have been charged with or convicted of mail fraud or wire fraud, you need knowledgeable legal representation in your case. Attorney Brian J. Zeiger can represent you throughout your case and, if necessary, can litigate your case through the federal court system and protect your rights every step of the way.

Defining Federal Mail Fraud

Mail fraud is a knowing or reckless misrepresentation of material fact, using the mail system, to deprive someone of money or property. Mail fraud charges usually come when a defendant uses the U.S. post office, or a private mail carrier, to send or receive materials connected with a fraudulent schemewhether or not the scheme is ultimately successful.

Mail fraud is a serious crime, and a conviction for mail fraud can result in as many as 20 years of incarceration in a federal prison, plus a large fine.

Elements of Federal Mail Fraud

The federal prosecutor handling a mail fraud case has the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In a nutshell, the federal prosecutor must prove all of the following elements:

  • A scheme to commit mail fraud, either via material misrepresentation or deceitful omission of fact
  • Use of the U.S. Postal Service, which the federal government can regulate and punish, if necessary, in accordance with the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution
  • Specific intent to commit fraud using the U.S. Postal Service

Defenses to Federal Mail Fraud

The most common defense to mail fraud—lack of specific intentis fact-specific and applicable when, under the facts and circumstances of a case, the defendant did not specifically intend to defraud anyone.

Another common defense to mail fraud is mistake of fact. This defense is applicable when, under the facts and circumstances of a case, the defendant was mistaken aboutor unaware ofcertain facts, and did not fully comprehend what was going on.

Defining Federal Wire Fraud

Wire fraud refers to any type of fraud that is carried out via any kind of electronic medium. Wire fraud could be conducted via radio or television, as well as over the internet.

Elements of Federal Wire Fraud

To prove that wire fraud took place, a federal prosecutor must demonstrate, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant did all of the following:
  • Engaged in a scheme to commit fraud, such as making a material misrepresentation or deceitful omissions about something
  • Used some sort of wire mechanism, such as a television, radio, or the internet, to further the scheme
  • Possessed the necessary mens rea, or mental state, to commit the wire fraud

Common Defenses in Federal Wire Fraud Cases

Several legal defenses are available to those facing criminal wire fraud charges. The most common, as with federal mail fraud, are lack of specific intent and mistake of fact.

Contact a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Criminal Defense Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case

A conviction for federal mail fraud or wire fraud can result in significant jail time in federal prison and significant fines. Moreover, a serious federal criminal conviction can have a significant and deleterious impact on your personal, educational, or professional life.

Attorney Brian J. Zeiger may assist with formulating potential legal defenses to your federal charge. To schedule a free consultation, please call us at (215) 546-0340 or contact us online.