Convicting an Individual or Business of Wire Fraud

New Jersey Criminal Lawyers Schwartz Posnock

A Federal Law Article

By NJ Criminal Lawyer, David A. Schwartz

What Must the Government Prove to Convict an Individual or a Business Entity of Wire Fraud?

The United States Court of Appeals has determined the legal requirements that the Government prove – beyond a reasonable doubt – in order to convict you of the crime of mail fraud. These proof requirements are commonly referred to as “the elements” of the crime. Here is what the government must prove in a federal wire fraud case:

Wire Fraud – “Transmits by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate commerce”- Defined

In distinguishing the crime of mail fraud, in a wire fraud prosecution, the government must prove the element of “transmission by means of wire,”beyond a reasonable doubt.

More particularly, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that in advancing, furthering, or carrying out the scheme, that you transmitted a writing, signal, or sound by means of a wire, radio, or television communication in interstate commerce or caused the transmission of a writing, signal, or sound of some kind by means of a wire, radio, or television communication in interstate commerce.

The phrase “transmits by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate commerce” means to send from one state to another by means of telephone or telegraph lines or by means of radio or television. The phrase includes a telephone conversation by a person in one state with a person in another state, or electronic signals sent from one state to another, such as by fax or financial wire. The use of the Internet to send a message, such as an e-mail, or to communicate with a web site may constitute a wire transmission in interstate commerce.

The government is not required to prove that you actually used a wire communication in interstate commerce or that you even intended that anything be transmitted in interstate commerce by means of a wire, radio, or television communication to further, or to advance, or to carry out the scheme or plan to defraud or the scheme or plan for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises.

However, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a transmission by a wire, radio, or television communication facility in interstate commerce was, in fact, used in some manner to further, or to advance, or to carry out the scheme to defraud. The government must also prove either that you used a wire, radio, or television communication in interstate commerce, or that you knew the use of the wire, radio, or television communication in interstate commerce would follow in the ordinary course of business or events, or that you should reasonably have anticipated that wire, radio, or television communication in interstate commerce would be used.

It is not necessary that the information transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate commerce itself was false or fraudulent or contained any false or fraudulent pretense, representation, or promise, or contained any request for money or thing of value.

However, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the use of the wire, radio, or television communication in interstate commerce furthered, or advanced, or carried out, in some way, the scheme.

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