If you have been accused of committing a crime through the United States Postal Service, a New Jersey mail fraud lawyer can defend your case based on a lack of intent. These defense strategies help innocent clients avoid harsh fines, imprisonment, and financial penalties.
Defining Mail Fraud
Mail fraud is a federal crime defined in Frauds and Swindles, 18 U.S. Code § 1341. This law applies anytime someone attempts to cheat a member of the public by sending documents through the United States Postal Service. Mail fraud covers illegal sweepstakes, lotteries, work-at-home offers, and scams where people are tricked into sending money but get nothing in return. Unfortunately, laws regarding mail fraud are comprehensive and can be used against anyone who uses the postal system or another major shipping company.
Elements of a Federal Case
To build a case, federal prosecutors must prove that you intended to swindle money from members of the public. If you send out mailers to trick consumers into giving you money with nothing in return, it is mail fraud. However, if you provide any product or service in return, there is no intent or fraud.
Advertisements and Sales Letters
Suppose your company sends out mass mailers with eye-catching advertising checks and special offers. In that case, you can only be held liable for fraud if there was no disclaimer stating that the check could only be used as a rebate for your company’s product or service. There is no law in New Jersey or the United States against sending out sales letters, but laws protect the public from material misrepresentations. The misrepresentation must have directly influenced a person into sending money or assets to qualify. Penalties also apply if marketing materials were part of a larger scheme to defraud the public. There is intent even if a scheme fails and no money is collected.
Contact a New Jersey Mail Fraud Lawyer
Mail fraud is a severe offense. If you have been charged or are under investigation, contact New Jersey mail fraud lawyer Lorraine Gauli-Rufo. To discuss the federal criminal defense update, or criminal law more generally, reach out to New Jersey and New York criminal defense lawyer Lorraine Gauli-Rufo at 973-239-4300 or LGR LAW for a consultation today. For more information about the firm, please visit LGR LAW’s website.