San Diego Mail Theft Defense Attorneys
Mail theft and mail fraud have different definitions, but both are considered federal crimes because the United States Postal Service is a federal agency, and any crime committed using USPS is classified as a federal crime.
Anyone charged with mail theft or mail fraud should speak to a criminal defense lawyer who is authorized to present cases in federal court as soon as possible. Attorney James N. Dicks is board-certified, and has the distinction of being a former Los Angeles Police Department narcotics investigator. He and his team know how to handle your case, so give jD LAW a call at (760) 630-2000 to set up your free consultation today.
The theft of any property is a crime in California, but mail theft is not classified the same as other theft crimes. While grand theft and petty theft charges depend on the monetary value of the property stolen, mail theft does not.
Mail theft is defined in 18 U.S.C. 1708 as a person stealing or taking mail not addressed to them from a mailbox, post office, or letter carrier. Removing the contents of this mail, destroying or hiding it, and buying or receiving stolen mail are all also considered mail theft. Mail theft can also occur if a person uses deception to obtain mail not addressed to them from any of these sources, such as telling a mail carrier you will give the mail to the person it was intended for.
One of the main intentions a person has when stealing mail is to obtain another individual’s personal information. For this reason, mail theft and identity theft are often charged together.
According to California Penal Code 530.5(e), on its own, mail theft is considered a misdemeanor, or a summary probation offense in California. The penalties if convicted typically include up to one year in county jail, and/or a fine up to $1,000.
Mail fraud is using the United States Postal Service or a private mail carrier to commit a crime. The entire crime does not need to occur through the mail, only one element of it.
For example, someone may send out many letters stating that they are representing a charity that is asking for monetary donations. If that person is not part of a charity and plans to use the funds received for their own personal gain, it would be considered mail fraud.
In order for mail fraud to occur, the misrepresentation has to be something material, or important. If the person representing a charity was part of a charity, but said the charity was located in San Diego and not Vista, where it actually is, that is not material. However, if the individual was not part of a charity at all, that would be an important misrepresentation.
The misrepresentation also has to be designed in a way that it could be easy to believe. In the example above, if someone said the charity they were representing was on Mars, disbelieving it would require only a reasonable degree of common sense. When ordinary prudence is not part of the mail fraud charge, the prosecution may have a difficult time proving the charges.
To be convicted of mail fraud, the accused did not have to be successful in the scheme. The prosecution must only prove that the accused used mail services to try to commit fraud.
The penalties for mail fraud are more severe than mail theft. A person convicted of mail fraud can face up to 20 years in a federal prison, a fine, or both. If the fraud involved a federal disaster, such as the accused claiming he was collecting money for victims of a terrorist attack, the maximum sentence increases to 30 years in prison.
Both mail theft and mail fraud are federal crimes. As such, they are some of the most serious crimes a person could be charged with.
While the situation may seem hopeless, there is help available. A San Diego criminal defense attorney can provide what you need to beat the charges and regain your freedom. If you have been charged with mail theft or mail fraud, contact jD LAW at (760) 630-2000. We will start reviewing your case today and give you the best chance of a successful outcome.
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