An individual who uses a mail delivery service as part of a scheme to engage in fraud may face prosecution for mail fraud. Mail fraud is a federal offense that comes with harsh consequences.
However, defendants can challenge the evidence against them. The best defense starts with an understanding of mail fraud laws and cases. Here are a few important facts to know about mail fraud.
Elements of mail fraud
To secure a conviction of mail fraud, prosecutors must be able to prove the following factors:
- Use or intention to use the postal system
- A successful or attempted scheme to defraud
- Malicious intent to commit a crime
If one of these things is missing from a case, it may be difficult for a prosecutor to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Mail fraud can involve UPS and FedEx
Mailing something via the U.S. Postal Service is not the only way for someone to be guilty of mail fraud. Using any mail service across state lines can result in mail fraud charges, including private carriers.
No harm or completion of the scheme is necessary
Interestingly, proof of actual losses or injuries is not vital to mail fraud prosecutions. This is because criminal plans are still illegal, even if they fail. Simply attempting to defraud someone through the mail can be sufficient for prosecutors.
Mail fraud can be part of a larger scheme
Sometimes, mail fraud is not the main crime in question. In many cases, it is simply one piece of a bigger picture. Use of the mail does not need to be a major role in the fraudulent scheme to constitute a crime, it simply needs to be part of the plot.
Defenses to mail fraud
One common way to challenge mail fraud charges is to question the prosecutor's efforts. The defendant can argue that there is not enough evidence to fulfill the burden of proof. Additionally, claims of acting with honest intentions can demonstrate a lack of malicious intent.
Any fraud charge is serious and it is critical to enlist representation from a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer immediately.