Under federal law, white-collar crimes are often charged as felonies, and the punishments are similar to punishments in violent crimes. That’s why there are a number of white-collar crime lawyers in Dallas who represent clients at Fortune 500 companies, as well as individuals and small companies.
Mail and wire fraud is a common type of white-collar crime that can result in lengthy prison time. That’s why it’s important for defendants to understand the definition of mail and wire fraud, the possible punishments for these crimes, and the common defenses that attorneys use to help their clients.
What Is Mail and Wire Fraud?
The question that’s important to answer first is what is mail and wire fraud?
The common definition of fraud is intentionally using false or misleading statements in order to obtain money or property.
Mail fraud occurs when a person uses the U.S. mail or a private interstate carrier service (like FedEx or UPS), to commit fraud. This means that the fraud must involve the act of mailing something to another person. Because the use of the US mail or an interstate carrier connects the crime to interstate commerce, the federal government can prosecute mail fraud under federal law under federal court.
The false statement itself does not have to be sent through the mail or a private interstate carrier. It is enough that the scheme uses the mail or private interstate carrier. However, this must be more than just incidental.
An example of mail fraud would be if a person sends a letter to someone offering to sell a car that the person does not own. If the buyer pays the seller and takes the car, but later finds out the seller did not own the car, then the buyer has been defrauded.
Wire fraud, on the other hand, is fraud that involves the use of wire communications in interstate commerce, including email, faxes, text messages, phone calls, and the like.
In the example above, if the person who did not own the car sent an email offering to sell the car, wire fraud would apply if the electronic communication crossed a state line, even if the person receiving it was in the same state. For example, if the electronic signal was sent through an email service provider’s server in another state, it would cross a state line even if the sender and recipient were in the same state.
Penalties and Punishment for Mail and Wire Fraud
Mail and wire fraud charges involve harsh penalties. Each use of the mail or wires can be prosecuted as a separate count, and each count can result in a prison sentence of up to 20 years. If the crime affects a federally insured financial institution, it is up to 30 years.
Common Defenses Against Mail and Wire Fraud
It’s important that people arrested for these types of crimes understand the common defenses against mail and wire fraud that attorneys use to fight these charges, including:
No intent to lie – This defense asserts that the defendant never intended to make a false statement. Even if a defendant makes a false statement, it is not a crime if the defendant did not realize the statement was false and just made an innocent mistake.
Statute of Limitations – Defense attorneys can also argue that the statute of limitations has passed, which means that mail and wire fraud charges can’t be prosecuted. The statute of limitations for mail and wire fraud is five years.
Puffery – Puffery is an assertion that the defendant didn’t commit fraud, but merely exaggerated his or her claims. This strategy requires attorneys to produce evidence of the exaggerated claims so they can be verified.
The Role of White-Collar Crime Lawyers In Dallas
The role of federal white-collar crime lawyers in Dallas is to protect the rights of defendants accused of offenses such as fraud. Federal financial crimes can be very complicated, and anyone accused of mail or wire fraud should look for counsel who is well-versed in both federal criminal law and financial criminal cases. Regardless of the circumstances, every defendant has the right to strong legal counsel that is committed to using all resources to ensure that their clients get a fair trial.
John Helms Dallas Criminal lawyer for white-collar crimes