When you think of federal crimes, more extreme examples will likely come to mind first, like severe criminal felonies involving loss of life or largescale destruction of property. What you likely do not think of is mail fraud.
What is mail fraud, exactly? And how do convicted perpetrators of crimes of mail fraud usually end up sentenced?
What is mail fraud?
The Congressional Research Service provides any information you need on mail fraud in the United States. Mail fraud is a crime involving the use of the U.S. postal system. When committing mail fraud, you utilize the mail to further a fraud scheme. This means tricking the victim out of honest services, money or assets.
Of important note is the fact that you can send the mail through private couriers and it will still count as mail fraud and a federal offense. This is due to the use of the U.S. postal system by every delivery service. Note that it also includes many different types of mail, such as parcels, packages, letters, postcards and more.
What are the penalties?
If convicted of mail fraud, you face potentially steep penalties. This includes a fine of up to $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for organizations. If you targeted a financial institution or used a natural disaster to further your fraud, this rises to $1 million.
You also face up to 20 years in jail or 30 for the aforementioned specific forms of fraud. You may also face probation or a term of supervised release. Due to the potential severity of these penalties, you will likely want to seek legal counsel as you head toward your trial.