In many ways, these federal court charges are much like wire fraud charges. If the defendant uses the mail to send false information, federal prosecutors could bring mail fraud charges. Frequently, prosecutors take illegal shortcuts to obtain convictions in these matters. These shortcuts often include withholding exculpatory evidence from defense attorneys in violation of Brady v. Maryland, or illegally seizing records in violation of the Fourth Amendment. If judges discover a Brady or Fourth Amendment violation, they usually throw the charges out of court.
The thorough Orlando mail fraud lawyers at the O’Mara Law Group never take shortcuts when it comes to your legal rights. Instead, we carefully review your case from every possible angle. Many of the members of our professional team are former prosecutors, so they know how the state will approach these matters. After we uncover every possible defense, we strongly advocate for you in court and around the negotiating table.
Breaking Down Mail Fraud Charges
Essentially, mail fraud is using the mail as part of a scheme to cheat people or entities out of their money. The specific elements are:
Let’s break down these elements individually. The communication prong is relatively easy to prove. The letter could be addressed to a specific person or entity, or it could be a general solicitation.
The other two prongs are more subjective. There’s a difference between an overly optimistic forecast about costs or returns and an intentional scheme to defraud. The line that separates these two things is rather hard to draw. Furthermore, the material statement must normally be about financial matters or something else very close to the heart of the matter. Other statements could be substantial or necessary, but they are probably not material.
Normally, mail fraud could mean up to twenty years in prison. If the mail fraud coincides with a President’s official disaster declaration, the maximum prison term increases to thirty years.
What to Expect in Federal Court
If the defendant used the U.S. mail, federal prosecutors handle these cases. It does not matter if the mail never physically left the state, county, or even the city. Furthermore, every time the defendant licks a stamp, prosecutors could file a separate mail fraud charge. 1,000 illegal stock sale solicitations could mean 1,000 mail fraud charges.
Prosecutors normally use these tactics to scare defendants, and the tactics usually work. So, in many cases, an Orlando mail fraud lawyer’s first job is to allay these fears by explaining the purpose of all these different charges and forming a plan of action to counter them.
Today, federal court prosecutions are much less intimidating, and much more predictable, than they were in the 1980s. Many of the harsh laws which existed back then have been repealed. Believe it or not, the mail fraud penalties used to be even worse. Additionally, the Federal Sentencing Act provides discretionary guidelines for judges to follow during sentencing. The sentence is usually part of an agreed plea bargain. The FSA removes politics from the equation and gives a neutral judge the ability to keep a biased prosecutor in check.
Reach Out to a Diligent Orange County Lawyer
Fraud accusations do not necessarily lead to fraud convictions. For a confidential consultation with an experienced mail fraud attorney in Orlando, contact the O’Mara Law Group, Attorneys at Law. We routinely handle matters in state and federal courts throughout the Sunshine State.
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