Mail fraud gets treated seriously in the criminal courts. If you are accused of committing this type of crime, you could suffer heavy consequences that may last years.
Why is mail fraud treated so harshly? Are certain instances of mail fraud treated differently than others?
What is mail fraud exactly?
The Congressional Research Service provides a helpful overview of the potential consequences for mail fraud. Mail fraud involves the use of the United States postal system in furtherance of fraudulent schemes. This includes anything sent through the mail, such as postcards, letters and packages.
For a charge of mail fraud, the items sent through the mail must aid in a fraudulent scheme of some sort. In other words, the intent must be to separate victims from their assets, money or access to honest services.
What happens after conviction?
If convicted of mail fraud, individuals face potentially severe sentences, including imprisonment for up to 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000. For organizations, the maximum fine is $500,000. Those who suffer a conviction will also have to deal with a term of supervised release or a period of probation.
A person convicted of mail fraud may face greater consequences in certain scenarios. The court can find that the charged individual targeted a financial institution, such as a bank. The court could also find that the charged individual took advantage of a natural disaster in carrying out the fraudulent scheme. In either of these scenarios, possible imprisonment is increased to 30 years. Fines may also reach $1 million.