18 U.S.C. section 1341 is a federal mail fraud law that prohibits the use of the mail system for fraudulent activities. While mail fraud is a criminal offense under federal law, it can also be prosecuted under state law as well. This applies regardless of whether the original crime involves tax fraud, healthcare fraud, or any other offense within the jurisdiction of the state.
United States Code Section 1342 also criminalizes the use of a false name or address through the mail and carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine. Attempting or conspiring to commit these crimes is also punishable by the same penalties as the successful execution of such offenses.
Understanding this legal definition of the federal mail fraud law, its elements, and the associated penalties can provide crucial insights into the consequences of engaging in mail fraud.
Legal Definition of 18 U.S.C. Section 1341
According to 18 U.S.C. section 1341, mail fraud is defined as any scheme or artifice to defraud, or to obtain money or property through fraudulent means, with the use of the mail or any other mail carrier service. Please note that mail fraud does not refer to a specific type of fraud, but rather to the method used to carry out the fraud. It encompasses any fraudulent activity initiated, furthered, or completed by sending or receiving fraudulent documents, letters, or packages through the mail.
There are three key elements of the federal crime of mail fraud.
- Firstly, the individual must devise or intend to devise a scheme to defraud or engage in specific fraudulent acts. This involves planning or participating in activities with the purpose of deceiving others for financial gain.
- Secondly, the mail must be used specifically to execute the fraudulent scheme or acts. This can include mailing letters, documents, or other materials as part of the fraud to further the scheme or deceive victims.
- Finally, the defendant knowingly and willfully participated in the mailing or use of a carrier for this purpose.
It’s vital to note that the use of the mail and the fraudulent scheme must have some connection. In other words, the fraudulent activities cannot occur independently of the mail. The fraudulent scheme must rely on the mail system to carry out its fraudulent activities.
For instance, if someone deceives another person by claiming to sell a property they do not own, and sends false documents through the mail to support their claim, they can be charged not only with fraud related to the property sale but also with mail fraud for using the postal service to perpetrate the fraud.
Penalties For 21 U.S.C. § 841 Federal Drug Crime Charges
Under federal law, the penalties for violating 18 U.S.C. section 1341 can be severe. Mail fraud is considered a federal offense, and individuals convicted of this crime may face:
- A maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment, a fine, or both.
However, there are two specific subsets of Mail Fraud that carry even harsher penalties. These subsets include Mail Fraud related to a federally declared disaster, such as sending false solicitations to defraud victims affected by a disaster. In these cases, individuals convicted of such Mail Fraud may face a penalty of up to 30 years imprisonment, a $1,000,000 fine, or both.
Moreover, the defendant may also have to pay restitution to the victim, in addition to any fines or jail time.
If you’re looking for information on expunging a federal crime in California, be sure to check out the blog post “Can A Federal Crime Be Expunged In California?” for valuable insights.
Non-U.S. citizens convicted of mail fraud can also face immigration consequences. Under immigration law, a conviction for a crime involving fraud, deceit, or dishonesty can result in deportation, denial of entry into the United States, or significant hurdles in obtaining future immigration benefits.
If you or someone you know is charged with this crime, it is strongly advisable that you also consult with an immigration lawyer. If you do not have or know of an immigration lawyer, the Tabibnia Law Firm can refer you to one.
Every case is unique, and a defense strategy will be tailored to the specific facts and circumstances involved. If accused of mail fraud, it is crucial to seek the expertise of an experienced federal mail fraud defense lawyer. Some effective defense strategies may include:
- Unawareness of the fraud: In fraud schemes, there are often multiple individuals involved. If you can demonstrate that you were not aware of the fraudulent scheme and merely acted at the direction of your employer or another person, it may be argued that your participation in mailing the letter is not sufficient to convict you of Mail Fraud. An attorney can present evidence to show that you were not part of the fraudulent scheme itself.
- Lack of impact or relevance of the mailed items: While the mailed items do not need to be central to the fraudulent scheme, they must at least be incidental or play a role in executing the fraud. An attorney will examine the evidence presented by the government to determine how the mailed items relate to the alleged fraud. If it can be shown that the mailing is unrelated to the purposes of the fraud, it may be argued that you should not be charged with Mail Fraud.
- Duress or Coercion: If the defendant can demonstrate that they committed the fraudulent acts under duress or coercion and that they reasonably believed they faced imminent harm if they did not comply, it may serve as a defense.
In conclusion, mail fraud, under 18 U.S.C. section 1341, is a severe federal offense in America that carries significant penalties. It involves the use of the mail communication system for the execution of a fraudulent scheme. The elements of mail fraud must establish a scheme to defraud, the use of mail or interstate communication in furtherance of the scheme, and intent to defraud.
If you are facing charges or accusations of mail fraud, it is essential to consult with a skilled attorney who specializes in federal criminal law. Cyrus Tabibnia from Tabibnia Law Firm is a well-regarded federal mail fraud defense lawyer with a proven track record of success in handling such cases. His deep understanding of the law, extensive trial experience, and commitment to his clients make him an excellent choice for legal representation in mail fraud cases.
Don’t face serious charges without proper legal assistance; contact Cyrus Tabibnia (866) 713-2159 today to discuss your case and develop an effective defense strategy.
Tabibnia Law Firm is serving its clients throughout Southern California including Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Orange County, Beverly Hills, San Fernando Valley, Ventura county, Riverside County, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Pasadena, Burbank, Glendale, Long Beach, Palmdale, Santa Clarita, Monterey Park, La Puente, Van Nuys, Pomona, Manhattan Beach, West Covina, Whittier, Downey, Woodland Hills, Norwalk, Torrance, Redondo Beach, San Bernardino, Walnut Creek, Inglewood, Lancaster, Westlake Village and nearby areas.