Defending People Accused Of Mail Fraud

Mail fraud and its counter part wire fraud are the most frequently prosecuted federal laws. Mail fraud is often charged by federal prosecutors because it can apply in so many situations and because it applies to anyone who uses the postal service, FedEx, or any interstate carrier or delivery service.

The law requires a person engage in some kind of scheme or plan to defraud another person of something valuable. The law also requires the person engaging in the plan or scheme must have an intent to defraud. Intent to defraud is typically shown by circumstantial evidence.

Mail Fraud Translated

Defraud – Not Deceive

The law is clear that fraud schemes must actually involve a scheme to defraud. Misleading or deceptive mailings while offering a legitimate service or product is not fraud. Prosecutors also frequently charge mail fraud when they believe the mails were used in order to further a fraud. In other words the mailings themselves do not have to defraud, legitimate mailings used for a fraudulent purpose can be sufficient to prove mail fraud.

Misrepresentations Must Be Material

Schemes to defraud generally involve mailings containing lies, misrepresentations, or falsities causing the letter’s recipient to act. The statements in the mailing are known as a material misrepresentations are a necessary part of mail fraud.

A material misrepresentation is intentionally hiding or falsifying a material fact which, if known to the other party, could have ended or significantly altered the basis of a contract, deal, or transaction. A material misrepresentation is a misrepresentation likely to induce a person to do something or that the maker knows would be likely to induce the recipient to do so.

Use, Caused Use, and Attempts

A person accused of mail fraud does not have to personally use the mails to be convicted of mail fraud. Federal law makes it a crime anytime someone “used or caused another to use” the USPS or another carrier in a fraud attempt.

Mail fraud can occur when a person unsuccessfully attempts to defraud another person using the mail.


The penalties for mail fraud can be very stiff. Any mail fraud conviction can result in high fines, long prison sentences, and other penalties. Under the federal sentencing guidelines the court is required to consider the amount of money involved, the number of victims as well as other factors. In certain cases it is possible for a person convicted of mail fraud to receive probation.

Call Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer Kresta Daly – (916) 318-5677

If you or someone you know is being investigated or has been charged with mail fraud don’t hesitate before contacting experienced criminal defense counsel. Sacramento based criminal defense attorney Kresta Daly has helped hundred of people successfully defend themselves against criminal allegations in state and federal court throughout California.

18 USC 1341 – Mail Fraud Defined

Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, or to sell, dispose of, loan, exchange, alter, give away, distribute, supply, or furnish or procure for unlawful use any counterfeit or spurious coin, obligation, security, or other article, or anything represented to be or intimated or held out to be such counterfeit or spurious article, for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice or attempting so to do, 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 deposits or causes to be deposited any matter or thing whatever to be sent or delivered by any private or commercial interstate carrier, or takes or receives therefrom, any such matter or thing, or knowingly causes to be delivered by mail or such carrier according to the direction thereon, or at the place at which it is directed to be delivered by the person to whom it is addressed, any such matter or thing, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If the violation occurs in relation to, or involving any benefit authorized, transported, transmitted, transferred, disbursed, or paid in connection with, a presidentially declared major disaster or emergency (as those terms are defined in section 102 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5122)), or affects a financial institution, such person shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.