Wire fraud is a very serious type of crime that involves defrauding someone over the phone, via the internet, or by mail, and each year, there are roughly 11,000 wire fraud cases. However, many of these situations do not end with a person being convicted because these charges can be quite difficult to prove. If you are involved in a wire fraud case, there are many potential defenses to the charges.
You Thought You Were Being Truthful
To convict you of wire fraud, the prosecution has to show that you purposefully misled the other party for the purpose of defrauding them. Without being able to show your intent to defraud someone, they cannot convict you. Therefore, one of the most common defenses to wire fraud is simply that you did not realize you were misrepresenting something.
If you thought the statements that you were making were true, then you did not commit fraud. Your defense counsel might show that you were misled by another party or present evidence of how you got confused about numbers and accidentally said the wrong thing. Remember that the burden of proof is on the prosecution, so if you say you thought it was true, they have to show beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew you were misrepresenting facts.
You Were Just Exaggerating Claims as Part of a Typical Sales Pitch
Because it often involves sales disputes, some wire fraud cases may have access to a type of defense called “puffery.” Puffery is a sales tactic where a salesperson makes exaggerations to close a deal. Statements like, “This will last you a lifetime!” or “Everyone loves these products!” are typically not meant to be cold, hard facts.
Therefore, your criminal defense attorney might be able to use a puffery defense to show a lack of intent. They can explain that you were just using common sales statements with colorful language and did not expect any reasonable person to believe you This defense usually works best in situations where your lawyer can show you were just using classic idioms, common metaphors, or other normal phrases that are never taken at face value.
You Weren’t Able to Deliver Due to Reckless Business Practices
This variation on a lack of intent defense admits you did something wrong but disputes the idea that you were trying to defraud anyone. Instead, your defense team might claim that your incorrect statements were the result of negligent business practices and not purposeful misrepresentation. This defense could be used in cases where you did something like misrepresent the amount of product available or mislead a purchaser about how well your product sells.
In these sorts of cases, your wire fraud charge might be changed to a constructive fraud charge. This is a lesser type of fraud, where the defendant is negligent and unethical but does not necessarily mean to misrepresent facts. You might still face some consequences, but they may be less severe.
You Didn’t Lie About Anything Serious
Just being able to show you said something untruthful on purpose is not enough to convict you of wire fraud. Instead, the technical definition of wire fraud is purposefully trying to defraud another party by making false claims about “material” matters. “Material” essentially refers to something that is serious or essential to the entire transaction. For example, pretending to be from a person’s bank when you are not employed by the bank would be a material misrepresentation.
However, your lawyer will take a close look at any misrepresentations you made to see how important these claims were. Your Morristown criminal defense lawyer may be able to show that anything you misled the person about was not material. If you only misled the person about something that would not reasonably affect the decision to enter into an agreement with you, you might be able to defend yourself against the charges.
You Didn’t Use Mail or Wire for Your Fraud
One surprisingly valid defense is focusing on the way you committed the fraud. Instead of denying that you tried to defraud someone, your lawyer might point out that you did not use the mail, the internet, or the telephone to further your fraudulent scheme. This defense might show up in the sort of case where someone used a fake document to benefit themselves. If the attorney can show that the defendant delivered the document by hand instead of by mail, the crime might not be wire fraud.
This is very important because it changes the way your crime is handled. Wire fraud is a federal crime that carries a prison sentence of up to 30 years. Meanwhile, non-wire fraud is a crime that is handled on a state-by-state basis. New Jersey fraud charges are usually a disorderly offense or a third-degree indictable offense. These types of crimes have a lesser sentence of around one to five years in prison and a much lower fine.
The Evidence Against You Was Illegally Obtained
In any criminal case, your lawyer will take a close look at how the prosecution obtained all the evidence against you. The government is required to follow all regulations and laws when investigating a crime. It needs a warrant or another order to authorize events like searches of your property or wiretaps of your phone. It also has to make you aware of your rights when interrogating you.
If the investigators did not follow these rules while collecting proof of your crimes, your lawyer can get the court to suppress the evidence. This essentially means that the evidence is not formally presented in court, and the jury cannot consider the evidence when making its decision. This method can be very good for your case since it can keep illegally-obtained evidence from convicting you.
Your Crime Is Outside of the Statute of Limitations
This defense is a little less common than your other options, but it can be quite effective. A statute of limitations defense argues that the alleged crime was committed too long ago for you to submit a reasonable defense against the charges. According to federal law, people cannot be prosecuted for wire fraud if it has been more than five years since the event occurred.
If you are being prosecuted for things that happened five or more years ago, your lawyer might be able to stop the case in its tracks very early on. Your attorney can show the dates to the judge and ask that the case be thrown out of court. However, there are a few legal exceptions to the statute of limitations, so be prepared for the prosecution to argue back if you try this defense.
The right defense can make a big difference in your wire fraud case. Even if your defense does not prove your innocence, it can reduce the severity of your sentence. As a trusted Morristown criminal defense lawyer, Gregg Wisotsky has plenty of experience assisting with these sorts of criminal defense cases. Our team can assist you with preparing a defense and arguing your case in court. Call 973-898-0161, or fill out our online contact form to schedule your free consultation today.