Mail and Wire Fraud
Mail or wire fraud is a serious crime involving a defrauding scheme that is sent through the mail or wire. The defrauding scheme could be a Ponzi scheme, a foreign inheritance email, check kiting, or an investment scam. Mail fraud utilizes the United States mail system or a private mail carrier to do the defrauding. Wire fraud utilizes phone, email, fax, or other electronic communications to do the defrauding. The potential penalties are substantial if you are charged with mail or wire fraud. At Hanlon Law, St. Petersburg mail fraud lawyer Will Hanlon strongly believes in protecting the rights of people accused of white collar crimes, such as fraud or identity theft.Mail and Wire Fraud Charges
Often, mail or wire fraud is charged in connection with other white collar or fraud charges, such as mortgage fraud, bank fraud, tax fraud, securities fraud, or health care fraud. These charges are separate, although they are very similar. Each fraudulent communication that you are proven to have sent through the mail or wire is a separate count of fraud.
There are both federal and state laws penalizing uses of electronic communications or mail to further a fraudulent scheme. Under the Florida Communications Fraud Act, communication includes mail and all types of electronic communications. You can be sentenced to up to 20 years under Florida law. The type of communications that you used to defraud need not be an essential aspect of the fraud itself. For example, if you simply mentioned something over the phone or in an email, you could be charged and convicted.
When certain kinds of victims are targeted by a fraudulent scheme through mail or wire communications, a 30-year sentence of imprisonment may be imposed. To avert these harsh consequences, you should retain a mail fraud attorney in the St. Petersburg area as soon as law enforcement is investigating you for a possible crime. The penalty is based on how much the property secured by the fraud is worth. Generally, if the value of property gotten or endeavored to be gotten is valued at $300 or more, a third-degree felony will be charged. If the value of the property that was gotten or endeavored to be gotten was less than $300, a first-degree misdemeanor is charged.
When you engage in a scheme to defraud and actually obtain property, you can be charged with organized fraud. If the property is $50,000 or more, this is charged as a first-degree felony. When the property is $20,000-$50,000, this is charged as a second-degree felony. When the property is less than $20,000, this is charged as a third-degree felony.
You can be charged with mail or wire fraud even if there was simply an intent to defraud, and no money or property was actually obtained. Moreover, each communication is a separate instance of mail or wire fraud. This means that if you had four such communications, you can be charged with four counts. This can result in a long sentence, but a St. Petersburg mail fraud attorney can help you try to minimize the number of counts against you.
Federal laws address mail and wire fraud separately. Sometimes both federal and state laws apply. Federal penalties are harsh, and federal charges have a high rate of conviction. A prosecutor will need to show that you intentionally and knowingly created a scheme to defraud someone else.
You should not assume that a conviction is assured, although it can be overwhelming to be charged with mail fraud or wire fraud. The government must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a tough burden. A St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer may be able to argue that the communication for which you are being charged was not related to the scheme to defraud. We may be able to argue that you did not participate or know about what was contained within the communication. We might be able to argue that you used hyperbole as a way of making a sale. In some cases, we may be able to argue that you acted in good faith. Sometimes there also are procedural defenses available, such as a Miranda rights violation.Get Advice from a Mail Fraud Lawyer in St. Petersburg or Surrounding Areas
If you need an aggressive advocate to fight charges related to fraud St. Petersburg, Hanlon Law may be able to represent you. Our founder and principal, Will Hanlon, has been providing dedicated criminal defense representation to people charged with white collar offenses since 1994. You can call Hanlon Law at 727.897.5413 or complete our online form.