Without a doubt one of the most used pieces of legislation in the prosecution of white-collar crime is the Federal Wire Fraud Statute. That and the Mail Fraud Statute make nice dance partners for court.
When all is said and done, the section of the statute in question used more often than not, is section 1343 which states in its paraphrased glory “whoever plans on ripping someone off for money or property by means of sneaky pretenses and sends anything relating to those sneaky pretenses by wire, radio or TV to rip someone off shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years or both.”
Not to put too fine a point on it, this is a pretty wide-open statute that gets a lot of use, as it offers prosecutors wide leeway in “massaging” charges that they may lay.
The use, and dare we say overuse, of statutes like this gives criminal defense attorneys a lot of grief. They are beginning to mount a solid defense for the person charged with either wire or mail fraud when the issue might not even have anything to do with either charge. “It can be a mixed bag when someone is charged with one or both of these offenses,” says Daniel H. Wannamaker of Wannamaker Law in Austin, Texas.
These cases are fairly complex and come, in some instances, perilously close to being ‘kitchen sink’ prosecutions to make a point, or catch a lot of smaller fish. Defense attorneys take a rather dim view of how often this charge seems to be used when the prosecution can’t seem to find something better to make a case.
The wire and mail fraud statutes are fairly similar and both are used together as a one two punch in federal indictments. They are often combined like this since both have some identical elements in common. To get a conviction, the prosecution has to show the act the defendant is charged with was done in the furtherance of a scheme to rip someone off.
Anyone charged with either offense is entitled to an aggressive defense of the charges. This is why if a person is faced with charges under one of these statues, immediately contact a board certified criminal defense attorney such as Daniel H. Wannamaker of Wannamaker Law in Austin, Texas.