When an individual uses the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) or other private delivery services, such as UPS or FedEx in support of a fraud scheme, they can be charged with mail fraud in Miami. It is considered a grave criminal offense. The statute for federal mail fraud goes back to the 1800s, and in the beginning, it was applicable to individuals using only United States mail to perpetrate or attempt fraud, such as using the mail to proceed with a lottery scheme, for example. At first, the legislation only protected money and tangible property frauds. Over the years, however, Congress has greatly broadened the scope of the law.
In a large variety of specific cases, you may be charged with mail fraud. In some cases, however, unnecessarily proactive prosecutors bring charges of postal theft against suspected individuals that are only slightly connected to possible criminal activity. To secure a mail fraud conviction, prosecutors must be able to prove the following:
- The perpetrator conceived or had intentions to formulate a scheme or artifice to swindle or gain money or property via untrue or misleading statements, representations, or promises.
- The crime contained material deceit likely to affect the person it was addressed to or be able to influence it.
- The perpetrator wanted to take away money, properties, or honest services from another party.
- In support of the scheme or artifice, the perpetrator made use of the United States Postal Service or other private or commercial national carriers to commit fraud.
In both the laws of Florida and federal, the use of correspondence is only illegal if it is done to facilitate a fraudulent scheme. This requirement means that the components of a fraudulent scheme must be revealed by the prosecution, but there is no requirement regarding the success of the scheme. The fraud attempt suffices.
Since mail and wire fraud are focused on the fact that such processes were used to pursue the primary convictions of fraud, mail and wire fraud allow the government to determine fraudulent intent. It's not uncommon for cases to come down to which side of the courtroom was more persuasive regarding that particular topic.
Without confession by the accused, or an exceptionally clear collection of circumstances which only coincide with fraudulent intent, both the prosecution and the defense must rely on reasoning from different evidence in the case to determine or refute intent. Prosecutors can rely on proof of fraudulent intent as weak as:
- Victims testifying that the perpetrator wronged them.
- Correspondence and other communications from victims to the accused, particularly if the accused continued the behavior following receipt of the letters.
Mail fraud charges can subject you to up to 30 years in prison and up to $1,000,000 in fines. The offense is spelled out in the federal law under 18 U.S.C § 1341. What is required for a conviction under the statute is a scheme to defraud either an entity of property or money or an individual and also, that the U.S. Postal Service was used in the crime. Additionally, every time the mail is used to commit fraud, a separate offense for mail fraud can be charged.
Crimes that arise in a single state will normally fall under the jurisdiction of that state, but the U.S. Constitution's Commerce Clause grants the federal government authority over some forms of fraud cases as well as overall interstate issues.
Often, people may be unaware that mail fraud even involves fraud crimes against senior citizens, financial and job fraud, telemarketing fraud as well as fraud involving sweepstakes.
The general information provided above about mail fraud in Fort Lauderdale is meant for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for speaking directly with an attorney about the facts and circumstances of your case. Please call 954-500-0003 in Broward or 305-674-0003 in Miami to schedule a consultation with the Law Offices of Mark Eiglarsh.