Federal Attorneys Defending You Against Mail Fraud Charges
In recent years, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has stepped up its efforts to prosecute those persons whom its representatives believe have committed mail fraud. Generally speaking, mail fraud occurs when the U.S. Mail is used in furtherance of any criminal act. More specifically, the federal statute that defines mail fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1341, sets forth two primary elements that must be proved in order for the DOJ to gain a conviction. The defendant must:
- Have devised or intended to devise a scheme to defraud (or to perform specified fraudulent acts), and
- Have used the mail for the purpose of executing, or attempting to execute, the scheme (or specified fraudulent acts).
Good Faith Defense
Depending upon the facts of the case, defenses are sometimes available, however. Inasmuch as the core allegation of mail fraud is intent to defraud, if the defendant can establish that he or she lacked that level of criminal intent, the result may be an acquittal. The most common method of establishing that lack of fraudulent intent is for the defendant to establish that he or she acted in good faith.
For example, if the defendant made representations as to a future event that turned out not to be true, he or she may still be able to establish that the belief was a genuine one. The defendant’s honest, yet mistaken, belief, can sometimes negate the willfulness required to show true fraud. A word of warning, however: While a defendant might have an honest and bona fide belief in, say, the success of a venture, if the defendant misrepresents the existing facts, the good faith defense is usually lost.
Introducing Evidence of Good Faith
Good faith can sometimes also be shown by producing evidence that the defendant:
- Acted in accordance with standard industry practices
- Did not actually receive anything of value as a result of the alleged scheme
- Sought legal or financial advice, and acted in reliance on such advice
- Corrected mistakes when he or she found them
Mail Fraud Charges Serious Matters
Mail fraud is a serious offense and, unfortunately, the federal statute is broadly drafted. For example, while a conviction of mail fraud requires that the accused use the mail, the mailed communication need not have been the essential element of the alleged scheme. The DOJ can prevail by showing that it was but one (step in the plot.) Penalties are harsh; conviction of mail fraud can result in a fine of up to $250,000 and imprisonment for as many as 20 years. Are you concerned about mail fraud allegations?
The Criminal Defense Firm has represented clients in all sorts of federal fraud proceedings, including mail fraud and wire fraud. Located in Dallas, Texas, The Criminal Defense Firm is a team of lawyers and courtroom warriors. The firm has the resources to provide the best defense possible. If you choose to work with us, we will use our decades of experience, including time spent as federal prosecutors, to help protect your vital interests. To start building your defense today, call 866-603-4540 or contact us online now.
Dr. Nick Oberheiden is a national litigation and trial criminal defense attorney who practices exclusively in the area of federal law.