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Federal law and the broad use of mail and wire fraud statutes, P.2

In our last post, we began speaking about federal mail and wire fraud charges, particularly the general elements courts are looking for in these cases. As we noted, federal and mail fraud statutes are very adaptable in application, such that prosecutors have the ability to apply them in a variety of cases, including various fraud cases, bribery, money laundering and other white collar crimes.

A recent example of the adaptability of federal mail and wire fraud statutes is the fact that federal prosecutors  out in New York are currently considering whether to charge General Motors under these statutes in connection with the debacle over faulty ignition switches that has caused over 100 fatalities. The possibility of fraud charges being issued in the ongoing case is interesting, given that there is really no precedent for doing so prior to a case against Toyota last fall.

That being said, federal wire and mail fraud statues are certainly not uncommon in other types of cases. The adaptability of these statutes lies in the fact that they are written in such a way that they  cover essentially any transaction through mail or electronic device, provided that communication involves some form of fraud. Courts have generally looked with favor upon the broad application of these statutes.

Defendants who are faced with criminal charges, including mail and wire fraud charges, should always work with an experienced attorney to make sure they have their case thoroughly evaluated and that they build the best possible defense. Doing so ensures their rights will be protected in the criminal process.

Sources:, “Prosecutors Broadly Use Mail-Fraud, Wire-Fraud Statutes,” Christopher M. Matthews, June 9, 2015.

Congressional Research Service, “Mail and Wire Fraud: A Brief Overview of Federal Criminal Law,” Charles Doyle, July 21, 2011. 

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