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Federal Mail and Wire Fraud Charges in New York

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, such as Federal Express or UPS, are penalized by the mail fraud statute. For help dealing with federal mail and wire fraud charges in New York, speak with one of our top defense attorneys.

What are the Penalties for Mail and Fraud?

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 impacted a financial institution. 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 crimes attorney in New York with a track record for successfully defending against these charges.

Proving Mail or Wire Fraud Charges in New York

An individual is guilty of mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1341, when he or she obtains money or property – or attempts or engages in a conspiracy for money or property – under false or fraudulent pretenses and in furtherance of such, he or she uses the mails, whether the United States Postal Service or a private, commercial carrier, such as Federal Express.  Similarly, an individual is guilty of mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1343, when he or she obtains money or property – or attempts or engages in a conspiracy for money or property – under false or fraudulent pretenses and in furtherance of such, he or she uses some form of electronic communication, whether it be telephone, wire, radio, text message, or email.

To be convicted of either crime, the government must prove three elements beyond a reasonable doubt – that there was:

  • a scheme to defraud
  • money or property as the object of such a scheme
  • a mail service or electronic communications 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 and the wire fraud statutes use the same relevant language, our team analyzes 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.

Contact a Federal Crimes Attorney in New York to Discuss Mail and Wire Fraud Charges

Given the extremely harsh consequences of a conviction, a top federal criminal defense attorney should be retained if you or a loved one has been charged with federal mail or wire fraud in New York. The lawyers at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman could work diligently on your case and help you build a defense. For more information about how we could help you, schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

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