Los Angeles Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer
Mail fraud is a federal crime that involves the use of the mail system in the United States to carry out or attempt to carry out a scheme to defraud others of money or property. A defendant convicted of mail fraud may face up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine. If the alleged fraud targets or involves a financial institution, a fine of $1,000,000 and/or a 30-year prison sentence may be imposed. Considering the severity of mail fraud penalties, one can clearly see why these are such serious charges.
If you believe you are under investigation for mail fraud or have been contacted for questioning or taken into custody by federal agents in relation to a suspected mail fraud scheme, you should waste no time in contacting an attorney. You have the right to legal counsel if you are arrested; exercising this right may end up making the difference between a life behind bars and a life of freedom. Now is the time to consult with a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at Martinian & Associates Inc. We stand ready to challenge mail fraud charges using all of the tools at our disposal.
Defending clients in the face of federal charges requires a considerable amount of experience and resources, not to mention a willingness to fight tooth and nail against some of the toughest and most skilled prosecutors in the nation. Fortunately, our team does not hesitate when it comes to asserting our clients' constitutional rights inside and outside of federal court. We know what to look for in finding the weaknesses in the prosecution's case and can use even slight mistakes or errors to our clients' favor. You can learn more about our federal defense services by calling for a consultation.
Federal Mail Fraud Charges Explained
Title 18 United States Code (USC) § 1341 defines mail fraud and outlines the penalties that may be imposed if a defendant is convicted. According to this law, mail fraud occurs when a person devises a scheme to commit fraud and, in order to carry out this scheme, "places in any post office or authorized depository for mail matter, any matter or thing whatever to be sent or delivered by the Postal Service" or any "private or commercial interstate carrier," or takes/receives any such article.
There are three primary aspects to a mail fraud charge that must be proven to secure a conviction against a defendant:
- The defendant had created a plan or scheme to commit fraud;
- The defendant sent or placed an item (letter, postcard, etc.) in the mail; and
- The defendant had the intent to commit fraud.
Whether the scheme was successful has no bearing on mail fraud charges. It is enough that the scheme was attempted using the mail system, as long as one or more items were put in the system in an attempt to carry out the scheme.
Mail fraud may be charged independently or may be charged along with other criminal charges, such as bank fraud,
conspiracy or tax fraud. If a person committed another federal or
white collar crime and used the mail system in an attempt to carry out the scheme, mail fraud charges may be filed in addition to any other charges. This can greatly increase the penalties that a defendant faces and further complicates the case.
Challenging Mail Fraud Charges in Los Angeles
The outlook for a defendant facing mail fraud charges may seem grim, but it is important to remember that the burden of proof lies with the prosecutor in these cases. The prosecution must prove, beyond all shadow of a doubt, that the defendant is guilty. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can use any available angle to build a reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury to help a client seek an acquittal. To learn more, contact our Los Angeles law firm today. We look forward to seeing how we can help you.