Federal Criminal Law – Wire Fraud and Possible Alternatives

By Brandon Fitz


Wire Fraud is a serious white-collar crime and is defined under 18 USC §1343 and states:


Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If the violation occurs in relation to, or involving any benefit authorized, transported, transmitted, transferred, disbursed, or paid in connection with, a presidentially declared major disaster or emergency (as those terms are defined in section 102 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5122)), or affects a financial institution, such person shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both. 18 U.S.C.A. § 1343.


Generally, the 11th Circuit has stated that mail or wire fraud occurs when (1) a person intentionally participates in scheme to defraud another (2) of money or property and (3) uses mails or wires in furtherance of that scheme. Cesnik v. Edgewood Baptist Church, 88 F.3d 902 (11th Cir. 1996).


The Department of Justice however does have its own internal limitations for prosecution. According to Justice Manual 9-43.100 (Prosecution Policy Relating to Mail and Wire Fraud), “Prosecutions of fraud ordinarily should not be undertaken if the scheme employed consists of some isolated transactions between individuals, involving minor loss to the victims, in which case the parties should be left to settle their differences by civil or criminal litigation in the state courts. Serious consideration, however, should be given to the prosecution of any scheme which in its nature is directed to defrauding a class of persons, or the general public, with a substantial pattern of conduct.”


Alternatives to prosecutions can also come in the form of Pretrial Diversion (PTD). PTD programs divert certain offenders from traditional criminal justice processing into alternative systems of supervision and services. Individuals who successfully complete a PTD program may qualify for a range of case outcomes, including the declination of charges, dismissal or reduction of charges, or a more favorable recommendation at sentencing.


Navigating serious crimes like these can be the toughest thing you have ever done. Don’t do it alone. Contact our team today for more information about how we can protect your rights.

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