Wire fraud is a complex, broad white-collar crime that can leave an offender facing federal or state charges. Because it is a felony offense, convictions mean harsh penalties including prison time. If the Federal Trade Commission is investigating you for wire fraud or the government has already indicted you, speak to a wire fraud lawyer in St. Petersburg at Goldman Wetzel today: 727-828-3900.
How do the statutes define wire fraud?
Federal statute 18 U.S.C. § 1343 states that someone commits wire fraud if:
- The accused devised or intended to devise “any scheme or artifice to defraud”
- Acquired money or property through “false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises”
- Transmitted by “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”
In other words, wire fraud is defrauding someone for personal gain using any electronic means, like email, telephone calls, or TV broadcasts. For example, creating a website for a fictional non-profit organization and soliciting donations via email will constitute wire fraud.
Florida Statute § 817.034 defines it similarly.
What penalties might I face for wire fraud?
The severity of the penalties depends on the amount of money or property involved, as well as whether you are facing federal or state charges. Federal penalties for wire fraud can include up to 20 years in a federal prison and/or fines.
If the violation occurs during a state of emergency/national disaster or affects a financial institution, the accused could face up to 30 years in prison and/or up to $1 million in fines.
The State of Florida imposes the following penalties for wire fraud:
- Under $20,000 – If the state values the defrauded property at under $20,000, it is a third-degree felony and is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
- $20,000 to $49,999 – If the property is $20,000 or more but less than $50,000, the offense is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
- $50,000 or more – If the property amounts to $50,000 or more, it is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.
What do I do if the government has charged me with wire fraud?
Those charged with wire fraud often face a handful of other related charges, which greatly exacerbate matters for the defendant and can mean a lengthy prison sentence in addition to hefty fines. There are viable defenses to wire fraud, though, and it is essential to hire a qualified wire fraud lawyer in St. Petersburg at Goldman Wetzel to fight your charges head-on.