Under 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1341, it is unlawful to use the U.S. postal service, or private mail carriers (e.g., UPS or FedEx), to facilitate a crime or send or receive anything related to a crime.
Even if mail fraud is just one small part of a much bigger crime, you could still face up to 20 years in federal prison and up to $1 million in fines for mail fraud alone. These penalties will likely be added on to any penalties you may face for the bigger crime committed (e.g., tax fraud or other forms of financial fraud).
Prosecutors will have to prove two main elements when establishing mail fraud:
- The formulation of a scheme to defraud or intent to formulate a scheme to defraud.
- The use of a mail service to further the fraudulent scheme.
How can I defend against mail fraud charges?
A criminal defense attorney in your area can devise a defense strategy to protect your rights. Common defense arguments in mail fraud cases may include:
- Lack of knowledge: You were unaware of the fraudulent scheme and were unaware that your use of the mail service contributed to the fraudulent scheme.
- No furtherance of the fraudulent scheme: The mailed items were not a part of the scheme or did not contribute to the fraudulent scheme in any meaningful way.
- Lack of fraudulent scheme: There was no fraudulent scheme to begin with and; therefore, any mailed items could not have been a part of the scheme.
If you are facing mail fraud charges, it may be in your best interest to contact a New York attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you consult with an attorney, the sooner they can begin collecting the evidence necessary to support your case.