Wire Fraud Versus Mail Fraud: What Should You Know?

January 29th, 2022 by Tad Nelson in White Collar

If you are under investigation for wire fraud or mail fraud, or if you have been arrested for either of these white collar criminal offenses in Texas, it is critical to understand more about these crimes and what the consequences of a conviction could look like. By learning more about wire fraud and mail fraud charges, you will be in a better position to hire a Texas white collar criminal defense lawyer with experience handling cases similar to your own, and to assist in building a strong defense strategy that is based on the facts of your case and the elements of the particular offense. 

Wire Fraud and Mail Fraud Are Both Types of White Collar Crimes

Wire fraud and mail fraud are both types of white collar crimes. What is a white collar crime? The term white collar crime does not refer to a specific offense or charge, but rather to a broader category of offenses that involve financial crimes motivated by financial gain. While white collar crimes do not involve acts of violence, you should know that prosecutors take white collar offenses extremely seriously, and sometimes the penalties can be more severe than they are for a violent crime in Texas.

Both Wire Fraud and Mail Fraud Are Charged Under Federal Law

Wire fraud and mail fraud offenses are both charged, in most cases, under federal law since they involve communications in interstate commerce (wire fraud) and a federal agency (mail fraud). To be clear, even if a person does not physically cross state lines, that person can engage in interstate commerce by sending or receiving communications that use forms of electronic communication (such as the internet to send emails or a smartphone to send texts). Since the U.S. Postal Service is a federal agency, any alleged criminal acts that involve the use of the U.S. mail will typically be charged as federal offenses.

Offenses Have Similar Elements the Prosecution Must Prove

Under the federal wire fraud statute and mail fraud statute, the prosecutor must prove similar elements in order to convict a person of either offense. In general, the elements of wire fraud include the following:

  • Devised or intended to devise a scheme to defraud; and
  • Used an interstate communication device to further the scheme (even if nobody was actually defrauded or the fraud scheme was not realized).

The elements of mail fraud are quite similar and include the following:

  • Devised or intended to devise a scheme to defraud; and
  • Used the U.S. mail to further the scheme (even if nobody was actually defrauded or the fraud scheme was not realized).

Penalties for Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud Are Severe

A conviction for either mail fraud or wire fraud can result in up to 20 years in prison and fines as high as $250,000 for an individual.

Contact Our White Collar Criminal Defense Lawyers in Texas

Are you facing mail or wire fraud charges in Texas, or criminal charges for another type of white collar offense? One of our experienced Houston white collar criminal defense attorneys can assess your case today and can begin working with you on a defense strategy. Contact The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates to learn more about how we can assist you.

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