Mail fraud is a federal crime. It happens when someone uses the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) or a private carrier to commit a crime. Using the USPS is a good way to give federal authorities jurisdiction over a case.

Mail fraud comes in many forms, but it is normally committed when a person uses the mail to obtain property or money fraudulently or to sell, exchange, supply, distribute or use counterfeits. A case of mail fraud occurs when someone uses the mail to commit fraud, such as by mailing a fraudulent contract or fraudulent communications. These cases don’t have to involve the USPS and can include any kind of mail transmitted through commercial or private carriers.

What are the potential punishments for a mail fraud conviction?

If you are convicted of mail fraud, you may face up to 20 years in prison. In some cases, imprisonment could be extended to 30 years if the fraud involved benefits related to a major disaster or emergency. Enhanced penalties could include fines of up to $1 million.

How can you defend against allegations of mail fraud?

That’s where things get more difficult. To start with, it needs to be determined if the mail crossed state lines. If not, then the case may be handled based on state law instead of federal law.

Your attorney will work closely with you to determine which laws may affect your case and talk to you about the options you have as you move forward. It is important for you to avoid talking to the authorities without guidance so that you don’t say or do something that could impact your case negatively.