When documents containing deceitful intent cross California state lines, whether carried by the United States Postal Service or private carriers, such as FedEx or UPS, mail fraud occurs. Large fines and lengthy prison sentences are among the most common penalties you face if convicted of this federal offense.
According to the Department of Justice, mail fraud involves devising a scheme that includes fraudulent acts and using the mail to execute the plan. There are several kinds of mail fraud, but law enforcement considers them all felonies, even if the scheme does not hurt anyone. Cheating to get into college is mail fraud if it includes deceiving the SAT testing company and admissions offices.
Proving intent to defraud
For a conviction, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had a plan that involved depriving a person or group of their property, money or honest services. He or she does not have to prove actual fraud occurred, only that you had the intent. Since the court cannot force you to testify against yourself, prosecutors can prove intent with evidence, such as the following:
• Testimony from witnesses who claim you defrauded them
• Complaint letters showing you were aware that the scheme was possibly fraud
• Records of your conduct and statements
Defending mail fraud charges
The government must show that you knew of the fraud and participated in a scheme anyway. Good faith is an integral part of defending against mail fraud charges. It illustrates that you believed that your actions were lawful and legitimate. The circumstances of your case determine how this defense can help you avoid the life-altering consequences of white collar criminal charges on your record.