When most people think of federal crimes, their thoughts likely gravitate toward bombastic, terrible crimes. However, a federal crime is any crime that involves federal officers or offices or takes place on federal land.
By that definition, mail fraud is actually a federal crime due to its use of the United States Postal Service (USPS). What does that mean for those convicted of mail fraud crimes?
What are the elements of mail fraud?
The Department of Justice discusses and defines mail fraud. According to the definition, mail fraud must have two main elements. One, it must have a devised scheme (or the intention to devise a scheme) to defraud or perform defrauding acts. Two, the perpetrator must use the mail to execute, scheme, or attempt to execute these acts of fraud. This applies to anything sent via the mail, such as letters, cards, postcards, packages and more.
Due to its status as a federal crime, mail fraud carries felony charges. This means the penalties often have long-lasting and steep ramifications for anyone convicted. It can include periods of jail time up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 if the scheme targeted individuals. If it targeted financial institutions such as a bank, this rises to a potential thirty years maximum in prison and up to $1,000,000 in fines.
Anyone facing mail fraud charges should seek legal representation immediately to avoid the hefty impact that a conviction could leave. After all, felony charges will stay on record and continue to alter a person’s life for years after they deal with potential jail time or fines.