Federal Fraud Charges
Two of the most common types of financial crimes prosecuted in federal court are mail fraud and wire fraud. The basics of the crimes are the same, the only difference is how the crime is carried out.
The common elements to both wire and mail fraud involve actions that are intended to obtain money, property, or another item of value through false representations or promises. Essentially, these crimes are based on a less-than-truthful statements made to another person in order to get them to give you something of value that you do not otherwise have a right to.
The difference comes in how those lies, representations, or promises are communicated and where they are communicated. If the communication is made by mail, the crime is mail fraud. In this situation, the use of the postal service to commit the crime automatically makes it a federal crime.
However, if the communication is made by any form of electronic communication (email, text message, etc.) and the communications cross state lines, or leave the United States, then it is wire fraud. Similarly, once a communication cross state lines, federal courts have jurisdiction over the case.
Cases involving federal fraud charges are often extremely challenging. Not only do these cases involve complex principles related to the substantive offense, but they also raise technical procedural questions pertaining to how law enforcement obtained the evidence. Thus, having an attorney who is experienced in handling federal fraud charges is imperative to creating a successful defense.
If you have received a target letter for one of these charges, or are currently charged with these offenses, hiring an attorney is important to determining your options and how best to present your case.False Statements to Federal Law Enforcement Officers
While not technically fraud, charges involving false statements to law enforcement officers are commonly brought in federal fraud cases. The crime of making a false statement to a federal law enforcement officer covers a broad range of conduct. All that is required is that an individual knowingly makes a material statement to a federal law enforcement officer that the individual knows to be false, and the statement was “within the jurisdiction” of the officer. Destroying or concealing material evidence may also lead to charges of false statements.
A statement is “material” when it has the ability to influence the officer’s investigation or conclusions. The matter is “in the jurisdiction” of the officer if it relates to the investigation. Even something as simple as giving a wrong time for an event may be enough to run afoul of this statute.
Often an individual may accidentally make a false statement without the necessary intent, however, an individual may still be charged and be forced to defend themselves through the criminal justice system.
Making a false statement to a federal law enforcement officer is a much more serious crime than in a state proceeding. In Virginia, making a false statement to a law enforcement officer is a Class 1 misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of up to 1 year in jail. However, in Federal court, this same crime is punishable by up to five years in a federal prison.
When federal investigators are working on fraud case, they classify anyone who is potentially involved as either a witness, subject, or target. A witness is a person who the federal government believes has information relevant to an investigation but is not yet suspected of violating the law. A subject is a person who the government believes may have committed a crime, but the government doesn’t yet have enough evidence to bring charges. Finally, a target is a person whom the government believes committed a federal crime. In other words, they are a target of the federal government’s investigation. When federal prosecutors identify someone as a target, they send them a target letter. If you receive a target letter, it means that the government believes you violated a federal law and plans to indict you. Thus, it is crucial that you reach out to a federal criminal defense attorney immediately to protect your future and your freedom.
Have You Been Indicted or Received a Target Letter from the Federal Government?
If you are under suspicion for federal fraud charges—or you’ve already been indicted—it is essential that you immediately reach out to an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer at Robinson Law, PLLC. Our experienced defense attorneys understand the complex nature of these cases and what it takes to develop a compelling defense. Whether we are negotiating with federal prosecutors, litigating a motion to suppress, or arguing your case at trial, we can provide you with the defense you need to reach the outcome you are looking for. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, call (703) 844-3746. You can also connect with us through our online form. We also handle other federal crimes, including possession of child pornography, and federal drug cases.