Written and edited by our team of expert legal content writers and reviewed and approved by Attorney Mark O’Mara
Content last updated on: April 17, 2023
Essentially, wire fraud is sending fraudulent messages, or more commonly, sending messages about fraudulent activity. Once upon a time, these cases were largely restricted to mail fraud. These matters are still quite common. Wire fraud is a broader term which includes other forms of communications, like phone calls, emails, and text messages. In many cases, prosecutors do not need to establish the underlying fraud in court. They must only prove that the defendant sent the communication.
The experienced Orlando wire fraud lawyers at the O’Mara Law Group have seen all these changes first hand. Over the years, we have developed proven methods that get positive results in these cases. Just as importantly, we know what doesn’t work in specific situations, so we do not start down the wrong path. These are skills which cannot be learned in school. Therefore, if a well-meaning yet inexperienced attorney handles your case, the chances of a successful resolution decrease significantly.
Elements of the Offense
Usually, wire fraud is sending false data in an attempt to illegally obtain property or services from another entity. That definition seems straightforward, but the offense is often difficult to prove in court.
Intent is often the key element in wire fraud cases. There’s a significant difference between intent to defraud and an innocent mistake. There’s also a difference between intent to defraud and a not-so-innocent mistake (e.g. I’m pretty sure I qualify for this program since I’m giving myself the benefit of the doubt). Furthermore, fraud is a specific intent crime. The defendant must intend both the conduct (making a false statement) and the result (wrongfully obtaining services or property).
Additionally, there is a difference between legal guilt and moral guilt. Many statements are false, but since they are not material, they are not legally fraudulent.
Finally, there are often technical defenses as well. Wire fraud prosecutions usually involve search and seizure issues. Normally, law enforcement investigators cannot monitor electronic or written communications unless they obtain judicial permission. Furthermore, especially in the case of a text message or email, there is often some question about who actually sent the communication and whether or not the recipient saw it and relied on it.
Wire fraud cases almost always wind up in federal court. Even if the defendant and alleged fraud victim lived across the street from each other, the communication probably involved an out-of-state wireless carrier, internet service provider, or other entity.
Most federal criminal cases, and most criminal cases in general, settle out of court. For the most part, the 1987 Federal Sentencing Act limits pretrial negotiations. These limitations are good and bad. They are good in that a federal judge at least indirectly oversees the process. Since judges are not political appointees, at least not technically, this oversight makes the process more fair. The limits are bad to the extent that the FSA includes sentencing guidelines. These guidelines, although they are not mandatory, limit the ability to negotiate a plea bargain uniquely suited to the facts of the case.
All that being said, an Orlando wire fraud lawyer can usually negotiate a settlement which does not result in a conviction on the defendant’s permanent record. That’s especially true if the defendant has not been in trouble before.
Contact a Hard-Working Orange County Lawyer
Fraud accusations do not necessarily lead to fraud convictions. For a confidential consultation with an experienced wire fraud attorney in Orlando, contact the O’Mara Law Group, Attorneys at Law. We routinely handle matters throughout the Sunshine State.
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