One of the fastest-growing areas of federal criminal prosecution involves two broad statutes that generally criminalize the use of interstate communications instruments in an attempt to defraud others.
18 U.S.C. 1341, the federal mail fraud statute, criminalizes the use of the mails to defraud another. 18 U.S.C. 1343, the federal wire fraud statute, similarly criminalizes the use of the wires, meaning the radio, television, or the internet, to defraud another. These are both federal crimes because they involve interstate commerce, meaning activity that crosses state lines.
Under either statute, the government must prove two things to secure a conviction. First, the government must prove that the suspect used the mails or the wires. The use of the mail or wires can be small and not significantly related to the underlying crime. In this manner, many activities can constitute mail and wire fraud. Second, the government must prove that the suspect had a scheme to defraud another person. This means that the suspect’s intent was to deprive the victim of something. It can be actual property, like money, or intangible property like confidential business information or trade secrets, or even the expectation of the suspect’s honest services or fiduciary duties. Such cases often involve corporate CEOs who are accused of violating their fiduciary duties to their shareholders, or elected officials accused of depriving their constituents of their honest services through bribes and kickbacks.
In recent years, the Department of Justice has become extremely aggressive in its prosecution of mail and wire fraud due to the high penalties available for prosecutors, and the vast amount of activity that could potentially fall under these broad statutes. The statutes also seem to criminalize certain business activity or regular, good faith business decisions, that before would only have been subject to a civil lawsuit.
Mail and wire fraud cases are extremely complicated and require a high amount of investigation, the deposition of many witnesses, and careful strategic planning. Furthermore, the stakes are extremely high in these cases: defendants who are convicted face up to thirty years in prison and fines as high as $1 million. In some cases, state criminal charges can apply as well.
For these reasons, if you or a loved one are the subject of a mail fraud or wire fraud investigation, or have been formally charged with mail or wire fraud, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Also, if you are called in to testify as a witness before a grand jury concerning a mail or wire fraud case, you should call an experienced criminal defense attorney. Moreover, your case needs to be handled as discreetly and sensitively as possible to preserve your business reputation.MA Mail Fraud Attorneys
At the law offices of Altman & Altman, we have the expertise and resources necessary to defend against mail and wire fraud charges, and we will explore every available option for your defense. If your case is in the investigation stage, we will work to prevent an indictment from issuing. If you have already been indicted, we will negotiate with the government while preparing your defense. Typical defenses include a lack of knowledge that a scheme to defraud was within the communication sent through the mail or wires, that the defendant did not have any intent to defraud the victim, or that the victim suffered no injury.
Contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Altman & Altman for a free and confidential consultation. We will discuss the specifics of your case and your legal options. We understand the stress these charges involve and will handle your case discreetly and efficiently. We will be by your side throughout the process and are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us today.