Fraud cases, whether they are state fraud charges or federal mail, wire, or bank fraud charges, involve accusations that the defendant tried to cheat someone by using deception.
Mail Fraud, Wire Fraud, and Bank Fraud
Fraud means tricking a person or business to get money or property. Federal laws make it illegal to use the mail or interstate wires to commit fraud.
“Mail” and “interstate wires” are very broad. Using the mail includes sending anything through the US mail as part of the fraud. Many people do not realize that it also includes the use of private interstate carriers like UPS or Fed Ex.
Interstate wires include interstate cell or conventional phone calls and text messages as well as interstate transmission of electronic data, such as electronic mail.
The use of the mail or interstate wires does not have to be an important part of the fraud. There is also no lower limit on the amount of money involved, although most US Attorney’s Offices will not get involved in a fraud case unless it is big enough to justify their involvement, as opposed to the case being handled by state prosecutors.
Bank fraud is an attempt to defraud an FDIC-insured bank or banking institution. Bank fraud often involves the use of false statements in loan documents.
I prosecuted mail, wire, and bank fraud cases as a federal prosecutor, and I have defended many of these cases as a criminal defense lawyer. I have also represented numerous plaintiffs and defendants in civil fraud cases throughout my career. Fraud cases almost always require an attention to detail and documents and the ability to explain complicated evidence to juries persuasively and in a way they can understand. I have developed those skills in fraud cases throughout my career.
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If you have not been arrested or charged with a crime, but the police have told you that they would like to talk to you, what do you do? Do not say a thing; let them know you want to use your right to get a lawyer. And do it ASAP.
Whenever you have any dealings with the police, you should be represented by a lawyer. If they are looking for you, if they want to talk to you, if they want to arrest you, or if someone has contacted law enforcement and accused you of a crime, you need a lawyer.
Even if you plan on pleading guilty, it is critical that you hire a criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights. Representing yourself is never a good idea. Even if you plead guilty, you can expect that prosecutors will try to take advantage of your inexperience by only agreeing to a plea deal that is less favorable than they would with a lawyer. Plus, an attorney may be able to spot problems with the government’s case that you would not recognize, like evidence that should be suppressed. Problems like that might result in dismissal of the charges altogether, but just being able to spot them can help negotiate a better deal with a prosecutor. An attorney, especially a former prosecutor like me, can help you protect your rights, evaluate your options, and negotiate with the prosecutors for the most favorable outcome.
In criminal cases, we usually charge a flat rate for everything but trial and a trial fee that is only owed if the case goes to trial. A flat fee means that, no matter how much work the lawyer has to do, you know up front what the fee is going to be. We base our fees on our estimate of the amount of time and work that will be required to defend the case. We are not a factory type of operation, so we generally do not have “grocery store” pricing, in which a given crime costs a set amount regardless of the facts. Each case is different, and we try to tailor our fees to your individual case. That means that we want to find out about your case and that we try to set our fees based on how much work we think your case will take and how complicated it will be.
If you are under investigation, but you have not been charged, we may offer to represent you during the investigation based on an hourly rate with a cost deposit that we bill against. This can benefit you because it can be difficult to predict how much work it will take to represent someone during an investigation, and an hourly rate means that you will only pay for the work done.