Mail fraud and wire fraud are terms that are used to describe the use of physical means (mail) or electronic means (wire) in an effort to carry out a fraud scheme. This raises an important question: What are the penalties for mail and wire fraud in Illinois? The answer depends on a number of different factors—though, these are serious criminal offenses that can be charged as a felony under either state law or federal law. In this article, our experienced Chicago mail & wire fraud defense lawyers explain the most important things to know about the penalties for mail and wire fraud in Illinois.
What is Mail & Wire Fraud?
You will often hear the terms mail fraud and wire fraud used together. In some cases, these offenses can even be charged simultaneously. That being said, it is important to understand that mail fraud and wire fraud are two distinct criminal offenses. Here is a brief explanation of the difference:
- Mail Fraud: Mail fraud occurs when a person uses the United States mail service in the furtherance of a fraud scheme. Federal and state mail fraud statutes cover more than just the United States Postal Service (USPS). You can still be charged with and convicted of mail fraud if you use a private carrier, such as UPS or FedEx.
- Wire Fraud: Wire fraud occurs when an individual uses some form of telecommunications (phone, internet, fax, text message, radio waves, etc) in the furtherance of a fraud scheme. In other words, wire fraud laws effectively make it unlawful to communicate fraudulent intent through most modern means of telecommunication.
An Overview of Mail and Wire Fraud Charges in Illinois
While mail fraud and/or wire fraud may be charged as a federal crime, Illinois also has its own state statutes for these offenses. Here is an overview of the charges and the penalties for mail fraud and wire fraud under Illinois law:
- Mail Fraud Charges in Illinois: Under Illinois, mail and wire fraud laws 720 ILCS 5/17-24(a), mail fraud occurs when the public or the commercial mail system in the State of Illinois is used in the furtherance of a fraud scheme. In Illinois, mail fraud is a Class 3 felony offense carrying five to ten years in prison and a maximum $25,000 fine. If you or your loved one was charged with mail fraud in Illinois, contact a Chicago white-collar criminal defense lawyer for immediate help.
- Wire Fraud Charges in Illinois: Under 720 ILCS 5/17-24(b), it is unlawful to carry out a fraud scheme through the transmission of wire, radio, or television communications, including the phone or the internet. You can be charged with wire fraud in Illinois if the illicit communications originate in the state or are being transmitted to someone within the state. In Illinois, wire fraud is a Class 3 felony offense with penalties of five to ten years imprisonment and a maximum $25,000 fine. If you or your family member was charged with wire fraud in Illinois, reach out to a Chicago felony defense lawyer for immediate assistance.
Mail & Wire Fraud are Among the Most Common Federal Criminal Charges
Mail fraud and wire fraud may be charged as federal offenses. In fact, mail fraud and wire fraud are among the most common federal criminal charges filed in the United States. The federal government has jurisdiction over a mail fraud case or a wire fraud case if interstate or international commerce is involved. Put another way, the federal government has jurisdiction over mail fraud or wire fraud if the illegal activity crosses state lines. As telecommunications equipment (phone lines, servers, etc) often cross state barriers, federal prosecutors have jurisdiction over many wire fraud cases. Here is an overview of the penalties for federal mail fraud and federal wire fraud:
- Federal Mail Fraud Charge: Under 18 US Code § 1341, a defendant can be charged with and convicted of mail fraud if they are 1) engaged in a scheme to defraud, 2) they made material misrepresentation or omissions, 3), the scheme did or would have caused others financial harm, and 4) they used the U.S. mail system to further the fraud scheme. Federal mail fraud is a felony criminal offense punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a maximum $250,000.
- Federal Wire Fraud Charge: Under 18 US Code § 1343, a defendant is guilty of the crime of wire fraud if they devise an attempt to carry out a fraud scheme using means of wire, radio, or television. Most wire fraud charges involve allegations that phone lines, text messages, or the internet were used in the scheme. Federal wire fraud is a felony criminal offense punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a maximum of $250,000.
How Our Illinois Mail and Wire Fraud Defense Lawyers Can Help
Mail and wire fraud charges are complicated. At The Law Offices of Vadim A. Glozman, our criminal defense team handles the full range of white-collar crimes cases, including both federal and state mail & wire fraud charges. No matter the specific charges you are facing, we are here to help you find the best path forward. Among other things, our Chicago mail & wire fraud defense attorney is prepared to:
- Review your case, answer your questions, and explain the charges.
- Investigate the mail/wire fraud charge(s), and gather relevant evidence.
- Craft a comprehensive defense strategy designed to protect your rights and your future.
Contact Our Chicago Mail & Wire Fraud Defense Attorneys Today
At The Law Offices of Vadim A. Glozman, our Chicago white-collar criminal defense lawyers have deep experience representing clients charged with mail fraud and/or wire fraud. If you or your family member is facing a mail fraud charge or wire fraud charge, we are here to help. Call us at 312.726.9015 to set up a fully confidential consultation.
With a law office in Chicago, we provide white-collar crime defense representation throughout the entire region for your convenience.