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Family and Criminal Law Blog

Friday, December 20, 2019

What Constitutes Mail Fraud?

Mail fraud is one of the most commonly charged federal crimes. This is due to the fact that it is so broadly applicable. The penalties that await those convicted of mail fraud are severe. Large fines and up to 20-years imprisonment may be imposed. If the mail fraud involved benefits related to a presidentially declared major disaster or emergency or if it affected a financial institution, enhanced penalties may be applied. The enhanced penalties may involve fines up to $1 million and up to 30-years imprisonment.

What Constitutes Mail Fraud?

Mail fraud is so broadly applicable because it can apply to anyone who uses the mail or any interstate delivery service in an attempt to engage in fraudulent activity. Federal jurisdiction easily applies in these cases because, while federal jurisdiction is limited to cases that impact multiple states, the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution grants the federal government jurisdiction where interstate mail services are involved.

Mail fraud applies to any scheme planned by a person in order to obtain money or property under false pretenses or disseminate counterfeits. The scheme to defraud becomes mail fraud when the perpetrator intends to use the mail for anything associated with the fraud. The mail could be used for something like mailing contracts or communications relating to the fraudulent scheme. It does not matter if the mailing involved the use of the U.S. Postal Service or a private or commercial interstate carrier such as UPS or FedEx. Mail fraud will still be applicable.

In order to successfully bring a mail fraud charge, the prosecutor needs to prove that there was a scheme to defraud someone out of money, property, or honest services. There is no requirement that the prosecution proves that anyone was actually harmed by the scheme. There isn’t even a requirement that the prosecution proves that the scheme was actually completed. Furthermore, there is no requirement that the intended victim of a scheme to defraud be aware of the said scheme.

On top of a mail fraud charge, many people face a potential charge pursuant to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly referred to as a RICO violation. Racketeering, a crime notoriously associated with organized crime networks, involves an attempt to obtain money or property from another through something such as intimidation or force. A RICO conviction is very serious and will expose a defendant to penalties far exceeding those associated with a mail fraud conviction.

Mail Fraud Defense Counsel

Federal crimes can be especially intimidating for those charged. The penalties tend to be much more severe and you are up against the full resources of the federal criminal justice system. With mail fraud being such a pervasive problem, prosecutors are unlikely to go easy on defendants. The aggressive defense attorneys at Navarrete & Schwartz, P.C. are well versed in federal crimes and are prepared to fight for you. We are proud to fight for and defend the residence of Midland, Texas. Contact us today.


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Navarrete & Schwartz, P.C. is located in Midland, Texas and serves the surrounding cities and counties, including: Odessa in Ector County, Andrews County, Martin County, Howard County, Winkler County and Crane County.



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