Wire and mail fraud are similar crimes that involve illegal transactions made in order to gain money or property using electronic or postal service communications. Wire fraud is a federal offense and carries steep penalties that may be imposed by both state and federal court systems. Mail fraud may also be prosecuted at a federal level, as the United States Postal Service is a federal agency. This means that if you are accused, tried and convicted of either of these crimes, there is a possibility that you may spend years in a federal prison. For that reason, anyone accused of alleged mail or wire fraud crimes should seek an experienced Tampa wire or mail fraud attorney immediately.
Joffe Law, P.A., has experienced legal professionals who have successfully defended fraud crimes of this nature in both state and federal courtrooms. Our seasoned attorneys understand how to navigate the complex waters of federal cases. If you are facing charges or believe that you may face charges of mail or wire fraud, it is of the utmost importance that you contact a qualified federal and state defense attorney as soon as possible. This can help to ensure that your legal rights are protected and may also improve the final outcome of your case. Understanding how mail and wire fraud are prosecuted, what constitutes a crime, what the penalties are and how to defend yourself are explained below.
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What makes them federal crimes?
Both mail and wire fraud are white collar crimes that can be prosecuted by federal officials. These fraudulent activities usually involve schemes which use deceptive means of communication for monetary gain.
Mail fraud is considered to be a form of communications fraud in the state of Florida. It is defined as a scheme to defraud and falls under Florida Statute 817.034. A crime to defraud is defined as either a system of engagement designed to cause an ongoing course of fraudulent conduct, the intent to defraud or obtain property from one or more people, or the false or fraudulent pretenses or promised used to willfully misrepresent a future action. With cases of communications fraud, a person is willingly engaging in a scheme to defraud another person, group, institution, or financial service. This can be done by mail, telephone, or electronic means like email.
Possible penalties in Florida
Penalties for mail fraud will vary based on a situational basis. Generally, communications fraud is treated as a crime of either organized fraud, communications fraud or both. Organized fraud carries penalties of correlating values to the money stolen in addition to lengthy prison sentences. Communications fraud can carry steep fines and prison sentences as well, though generally sentencing is less for crimes that are committed via communications and have not been constructed as organized schemes.
Wire fraud is also a communications crime in the state of Florida. While wire fraud may be prosecuted as a communications crime, it also may fall under its own U.S. code section. Wire fraud is penalized and prosecuted based on its definition in 18 U.S. Code Section 1343. If you have been accused of wire fraud, your offense will very likely be prosecuted in federal court. This is one of the reasons that having a qualified federal and state attorney is so important. Your attorney will be able to help you protect your rights in two different court systems and may also help you avoid certain system penalties. Wire fraud is legally defined as:
- Devising, or intending to devise a scheme or artifice to in an attempt to defraud or obtain money by false pretenses, misrepresentations, or false promises.
- Wire fraud involves transmitting or causing to be transmitted any “writings, signals, pictures or sounds” via wire (electronic device) for the purposes of executing the scheme or artifice.
This means that schemes that are conducted over the telephone are considered to be acts of wire fraud. The definition of this crime is intentionally broad because advances in modern technology mandate flexible legal procedures in some areas. This is great for prosecutors, but defendants may find themselves being accused of more than they have actually done.
International communications fraud may be conducted by mail or electronically. Fraud of this kind falls under the same definition of wire and mail fraud, but it also involves taking transactions out of state or to another country. International communications fraud is treated very seriously and prosecuted aggressively in federal court. Individuals who have been found to be involved in organized international communications fraud schemes may be facing decades in federal prison. Unfortunately, in some cases, innocent individuals may find themselves tied up in schemes like this unknowingly. A person may think that they have been hired as a telemarketer or call center personnel for a company only to find out that that company has been committing international communications fraud and they have been implicated in criminal activity. That’s just another reason retaining the right lawyer can be so critical to the outcome of your case.
How steep are the punishments?
Under state and federal statutes and codes, the penalties for wire fraud can be severe. Individuals may face steep fines and incarceration for up to 30 years for a single count of organized communications fraud or international wire fraud.
There are many possible defenses for communications fraud charges. Your defense or mitigation strategy will vary based on your unique situation so hiring a qualified attorney is really the only way that you can truly know what the possibilities will be. That being said, there are a few ways that you may be able to defend yourself against allegations of this kind. If you have been accused of a scheme to defraud, you may be able to ask for proof that you intended to defraud anyone. If you did not have the intent to defraud, you may avoid certain charges. You may also be able to claim that instead of committing an organized scheme, you simply committed multiple thefts. Multiple small thefts have smaller penalties than organized fraud schemes. You may also be able to take a plea bargain or prove your innocence using substantial and verifiable evidence. Your lawyer will be the only one who will be fully capable of helping you construct a viable defense or mitigation strategy.
Let us start fighting for you today
If you have been accused of a serious communications crime in Hillsborough County or elsewhere in Florida, time is of the essence. Joffe Law, P.A., has experienced Tampa mail and wire fraud lawyers that have the skills and expertise needed to help you protect your rights and defend your freedoms.