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How do mail and wire fraud differ?

On Behalf of | Jul 24, 2020 | Criminal Defense

In Texas, there are laws differentiating mail fraud from wire fraud. The law treats these crimes as different entities. They are not even on the same tier of crime. One is a felony. 

Because of that, the penalties are also different. If you end up facing charges for either, you may end up surprised by what the punishment is. 

Electronic forms of fraud

The Cornell Law School defines mail fraud as a form of defrauding someone. Defrauding someone is the act of parting them from assets, money, or honest services. There are many ways to defraud someone. Mail and wire fraud are only two examples. 

Wire fraud involves electronic communications. This includes phone calls, emails, faxes, text messages and chat client conversations. A crime only counts as wire fraud if communications cross state lines. In other words, if you attempt to defraud someone within your own state using a phone call, it is not wire fraud. It is still a crime punishable by law, though. 

Defrauding someone via mail

Mail fraud is a federal crime. This is because it involves the U.S. mailing system. It does not matter if you use the United States Postal Service or a private postal service. Using the mail at all is enough for a crime to end up with the mail fraud label. Mail fraud also includes an abundance of different mail types. Packages, letters, post cards, parcels and more fall under its definition. Due to its status as a felony, you can face significant time in jail and enormous fines. Your jail sentence may last 20 years or more. Fines can run up to hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.