Mail fraud is a serious federal criminal charge that can have severe consequences, such as a large fine and/or time in prison.
Using the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to commit a crime makes it easy for the federal government to step in and take action. The same holds true if you use a private interstate carrier to carry out some type of fraudulent activity.
What is mail fraud?
There is a bit of gray area regarding mail fraud, but it typically includes any scheme that fits into one of these categories:
- Fraud to obtain property or money under false pretenses
- Fraud to sell, exchange, distribute or use counterfeits
A scheme is considered mail fraud when it involves the postal system. For example, sending a letter in an attempt to scam someone out of their personal or financial data may constitute mail fraud.
What's the penalty for a mail fraud conviction?
As a federal criminal charge, you can expect the penalties associated with a mail fraud conviction to be steep.
Mail fraud is punishable by imprisonment for a maximum period of 20 years, along with a fine. However, if the crime is associated with a financial institution, emergency declaration or major disaster, penalties can include imprisonment for up to 30 years and a fine up to $1 million.
How to defend yourself
As such a serious crime, it's imperative to defend yourself vigorously against a charge of mail fraud.
There are many defense strategies you can use, such as:
- Proving that it wasn't your intention to defraud anyone
- Making it difficult for the government to prove that your intent was fraud
- Proving that someone else, such as an employer, forced you into partaking in a mail fraud scheme
If you're charged with any form of mail fraud, learn more about the details associated with your case and the next steps in the legal process in California. This will put you in the best possible position to formulate a defense strategy with the idea of preventing a conviction.
Visit our website and read our past blog posts for additional guidance related to mail fraud, defense strategies and related subject matter.