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How do mail fraud and wire fraud differ?

On Behalf of | Jun 8, 2020 | Firm News

In California, mail fraud and wire fraud are both categorized as white collar crimes. They come with different potential penalties as well. What happens if you face a wire or mail fraud charge? How do these two charges differ?

Finding the answer to these questions is crucial. It is also important to understand where the differences are and why one charge may be worse than the other.

What is mail fraud?

Cornell Law School discusses mail fraud and the correlating consequences when convicted. Mail fraud is the use of the postal system to defraud another person. When you defraud someone, you deprive them of assets and property. In some cases, you deny them honest and proper services. You can face mail fraud charges for sending anything with the intent to defraud. You can send it through any postal system. This includes the United States Postal Service as well as private companies. Mail includes boxes, postcards, letters and more.

Wire fraud covers the same concepts and has the same end goal. But instead of relying on physical mail, it uses digital and electronic means. This includes emails, faxes, phone calls and so on.

Differentiating mail and wire fraud

There are two important distinctions between wire fraud and mail fraud. The first is that mail fraud is a felony. This is due to the involvement of the USPS, which is a federal organization. The second is that mail fraud has a broader definition. Mail fraud includes everything sent by mail. For you to face wire fraud charges, your communications must cross state lines.

In either case, you can face steep fines and time in jail. Mail fraud convictions often result in higher jail sentences due to its status as a felony crime. This is important to know if facing either conviction.