Most Texas residents know that using the U.S. Postal Service or another private or commercial interstate shipping service to commit a crime can result in federal criminal charges. If a person is accused of doing just this, that person will be charged with mail fraud.
Fraud, in broad terms, involves obtaining money or assets under false pretenses or using, selling, distributing, supplying and exchanging counterfeits. In order to be charged with mail fraud, a person must mail something that is associated with fraud. For example, law enforcement agencies can use receipts, mailing contracts and even communications to charge someone with mail fraud. If the alleged mail fraud does not cross any state lines, it is up to the state to persecute. If the occurs over one or more state lines, the federal government has jurisdiction over the case.
The case involving Charles Ponzi is probably one of the most well-known when it comes to mail fraud. Ponzi reportedly made millions every day through a scheme that involved postal reply coupons in 1919 and 1920. He was eventually charged with 86 counts of mail fraud, though he only pleaded guilty to one count. He spent five years in prison as a result.
Those who are accused of committing federal crimes, such as mail fraud, could face a lengthy prison, expensive fines and a criminal record if they are convicted on the charges. A criminal law attorney may walk an accused person through the process of federal court, especially since the statutes, rules of evidence and jury selection is different from state court. He or she may determine what defense strategies may be utilized based on the evidence. The attorney may work to find holes in the case or prove that the accused person had no intention of committing mail fraud or other federal crimes.