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Rhode Island Federal Wire and Mail Fraud Charges

You do not need to fight your federal wire fraud and mail fraud charges alone.  Our highly skilled Rhode Island Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys at the Marin, Barrett, and Murphy Law Firm are here to help you fight your federal wire fraud charges and federal mail fraud charges.  There are time tested and proven defenses and strategies to fight wire fraud and mail fraud.  In fact, a skilled federal criminal defense attorney can raise the defense of lack of knowledge (perhaps the defendant was an unwitting accomplice); lack of intent (perhaps the defendant legitimately believed a material fact to be true and this is a civil issue as opposed to a criminal issue); and insufficient evidence (perhaps there is a weakness in the case or a plausible explanation). 

If you have been arrested or indicted in Rhode Island for wire fraud charges or mail fraud charges, it is important to seek experienced legal advice as soon as possible.  Our experienced federal criminal defense attorneys will meet with you and confidentially discuss the facts of your case, any legal or constitutional defenses you may have and your best strategy going forward.  We have handled numerous cases and can put our experience and knowledge to work for you right away.

Rhode Island Federal Mail Fraud Lawyers and Wire Fraud Attorneys

Marin, Barrett, and Murphy Law Firm

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What is federal mail fraud and federal wire fraud?

Mail fraud and wire fraud are both federal crimes and are similar in many respects.  Mail fraud (18 U.S.C. Section 1341) and wire fraud (18 U.S.C. Section 1343) are complex and lengthy statutes, but both can be boiled down into three elements. 

Namely, both involve the 1) existence of a scheme for the purpose of committing fraud; 2) the knowing or willful participation in the scheme; and 3) the use of mail (public i.e. USPS or private i.e. FedEx/UPS) or a wire (including telephone/email/internet) to further the scheme.  The difference between the two crimes is the medium/way in which the scheme is carried out – mail in case of mail fraud and wire communication in the case of wire fraud.

What qualifies as Federal Mail Fraud? Federal Wire Fraud?

Both the mail fraud and wire fraud statutes are exceptionally broad.  Again, both involve the misrepresentation or concealment of a “material fact” or a scheme to obtain money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses involving a false statement or assertion or concealment concerning a material fact.  It is the way (or the how) the fraudulent scheme that is carried out is what constitutes mail fraud or wire fraud.

 Courts have determined that mail fraud under (18 U.S.C. Section 1341) requires the intent to defraud and that it includes the carrying out of a fraudulent scheme by:

  • Placing of items/materials in a post office or mail box with the intent that the materials are delivered by the USPS or private interstate mail courier (FedEx/UPS) to someone else;
  • Receiving anything that has been delivered by the USPS or private interstate courier; or
  • Causing something to be delivered by mail (i.e. asking someone to mail something on your behalf).

Wire fraud under 18 U.S.C. Section 1341, requires wire communications in furtherance of the fraudulent scheme.  Wire communications are the transmission, receiving, or causing of something to be transmitted or received through radio signal, television signal, interstate telephone, or electronic communication.  Wire communications include text messages, instant messaging, cellphone calls, emails, and any other internet-based communications.

Can you go to jail for Federal Mail Fraud and Federal Wire Fraud?

Yes.  Although these crimes have historically been labeled “white-collar crimes”, they do and can result in jail sentences.  In fact, in recent years, federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), United States Post Office (USPS), and others have increased their investigations into fraudulent schemes via mail and wire communications.  In turn, US Attorneys Offices across the United States, including here in Rhode Island, are aggressively prosecuting these types of cases and routinely seek stiff penalties such as prison.

How do you prove Federal Mail Fraud or Federal Wire Fraud?

The US Government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an individual (or a corporation) devised or intended to devise a scheme to defraud or to obtain money/property by fraudulent means through public/private mail (for mail fraud) or through wire communications (for wire fraud).  This means the prosecutor must show that a person or company knowingly or willfully defrauded another person or company through the use of interstate mail carriers (for mail fraud) or through email/telephone/internet/cell phone/telegram etc. (for wire fraud).

Federal Mail and Wire Fraud Penalties

Is Federal Wire Fraud or Federal Mail Fraud a felony?

Yes, both mail fraud and wire fraud are federal felony crimes, which means that they both carry maximum federal prison sentences greater than one year.

What is the punishment for Federal Mail Fraud and Federal Wire Fraud?

Both the wire fraud statute and mail fraud statute carry a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in federal prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both prison and fine.  If the fraud is against a banking/financial institution or if the fraud targeted any benefit related to a presidentially related disaster or emergency then the maximum penalty is 30 years in federal prison and a fine up to $1,000,00, or both prison and fine.

How long do you go to jail for mail fraud and wire fraud?

The length of time that an individual can go to prison varies widely.  Many factors play a role in the time an individual could be sentenced prison, including: the age of the victim(s), the amount of money/property fraudulently obtained, the length of the scheme, the criminal history of the defendant, whether the defendant cooperated with the prosecution, and other factors contribute to a sentence.  Each of these factors are contemplated in conjunction with the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which play a large role in the determination of a jail sentence for mail fraud and wire fraud.

What are the Federal Mail Fraud and Federal Wire Fraud statutes?

The mail fraud statute is 18 U.S.C. Section 1341 and the wire fraud statute is 18 U.S.C. Section 1343.

What is the minimum sentence for Federal Wire Fraud or Federal Mail Fraud?

Fortunately, there is no “mandatory minimum”* prison sentence for wire fraud and mail fraud unlike other federal crimes.  In fact, in some instances, judges have sentenced defendants found to be guilty of mail fraud and wire fraud to probation and/or community confinement instead of jail.  *However, it is important to note that often times mail fraud and wire fraud schemes often overlap with other felony crimes such as aggravated identity theft, money laundering, racketeering, bank fraud, and conspiracy to name a few that may have mandatory minimum sentences attached.

What is Federal Conspiracy to commit Wire Fraud or Mail Fraud?

In general, a conspiracy is when two or more persons conspire or work/plan together to bring about a particular result.  With respect to mail fraud and wire fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1349 makes it a separate crime from mail fraud (under 18 U.S.C. 1341) and wire fraud (under 18 U.S.C. 1343) to conspire to commit mail or wire fraud.  This means that in addition to being charged with either or both mail fraud and wire fraud, a person could also be separately charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud or wire fraud if the fraudulent act was committed in conjunction with one or more persons. 

The full text of 18 U.S.C. 1349, states, “any person who attempts or conspires to commit [mail fraud or wire fraud] shall be subject to the same penalties as those prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the attempt or conspiracy.

This means the penalties include a maximum prison sentence of 20 years if the conspiracy was committed against an individual or up to 30 years if the conspiracy was committed against a financial institution.

Rhode Island Federal Wire Fraud Attorneys and Mail Fraud Lawyers: What Can We Do For You?

If you have been charged in Rhode Island Federal Court with wire fraud or mail fraud, it is extremely important to seek experienced legal advice as soon as possible.  Our experienced R.I. federal criminal defense attorneys at the Marin, Barrett, and Murphy Law Firm to meet with you and confidentially discuss the facts of your case, any legal or constitutional defenses you may have, and your best strategy moving forward.  We have handled many wire and mail fraud cases and can put our experience and knowledge to work for you right away.

Kensley Barrett

Our law firm was founded on the belief that working with us is more than just hiring a lawyer. Working with us will bring you peace of mind and also allow you to continue with your regular life while we attend to your legal matters. Our vast experience means that it allows us to excel in both aggressively representing your interests and generating the best possible result for you.