Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud

Two of the crimes most commonly charged by federal prosecutors are mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341, and wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343. The reason for their frequent usage is that nearly all frauds in the modern era are alleged to have utilized some means of non-face-to-face communications in furtherance of the underling scheme. Accordingly, these offenses are frequently charged together with other financial crimes, such as bank fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1344), healthcare fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1347), securities fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1344), access device theft (18 U.S.C. § 1029) and computer fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1030).

Put simply, frauds which are alleged to have utilized electronic communications are penalized by the wire fraud statute, and frauds which are alleged to have utilized the United States Postal Service or another interstate commercial carrier (e.g., Federal Express, UPS) are penalized by the mail fraud statute. The punishment for a conviction for either offense is severe, carrying a maximum sentence of up to 20 years imprisonment – and up to 30 years imprisonment and a $1 million fine if the criminal conduct “affect[ed]” a financial institution. See 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341, 1343. Given the harsh consequences of a conviction and the relative complexity of these cases, it is imperative that a defendant facing mail or wire fraud allegations be represented by a skilled federal criminal attorney with a track record for successfully defending against these charges.

Specifically, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 1341, which punishes Frauds and Swindles (mail fraud) and 18 U.S.C. § 1343, which punishes Fraud by Wire, Radio or Television, (wire fraud), to be convicted of either crime, the government must therefore prove three elements beyond a reasonable doubt: 1) a scheme to defraud; 2) money or property as the object of such scheme; and 3) that a mail service or electronic communications were utilized to further the scheme. See Fountain v. United States, 357 F.3d 250, 255 (2d Cir. 2004); see also United States v. Schwartz, 924 F.2d 410, 416 (2d Cir. 1991) (“Because the mail fraud and the wire fraud statutes use the same relevant language, we analyze them the same way”). Further, the limited elements of these statutes give them an “extraordinarily broad sweep,” (United States v. Porcelli, 865 F.2d 1352 (2d Cir. 1989)) and concomitantly, prosecutors the ability to charge any number of different crimes as mail or wire fraud.

Call Top New York Federal Criminal Attorneys Today

Given the extremely harsh consequences of a conviction, a top federal criminal defense attorney should be retained if you or a loved one have been charged with mail or wire fraud to ensure that any and all viable defenses are explored and utilized. Lawyers at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman have successfully handled many of these cases, exploiting holes in the prosecution’s evidence to achieve the best possible result for our clients. Contact us today at (212) 518-1001 for a free consultation.