Wire fraud is one of many legal concepts with outdated names. For example, dram shop liability is when someone sues the bar where a drunk driver got drunk before causing an accident, but no dram shops have operated in over a century; today, people buy alcoholic beverages from liquor stores and bars, and no one measures alcoholic beverages in drams anymore. When a judge makes the right decision based on the wrong reasons, it is called a “tipsy coachman” argument, but when was the last time you depended on a coachman to get you to where you were going? Likewise, most of the people who get charged with wire fraud today did not use any wires to commit the crime, at least not knowingly. If you are being accused of wire fraud and are puzzled about what wires have to do with anything, contact a Texas fraud crime lawyer.
What Must Prosecutors Prove to Convict a Defendant of Wire Fraud?
Wire fraud is one of the most commonly charged crimes in federal courts, largely because it has such a broad definition. The term wire fraud refers to using any of a variety of communication devices to make false statements with the intent of getting the victim to pay you money. Therefore, wire fraud charges are equally likely to apply in the context of romance scams on online dating sites, email phishing scams, and organized crime. What matters in wire fraud cases is that the defendant knowingly and intentionally made false statements and that the purpose of those false statements was to obtain money. Which device the defendant used is less important. The “wire” in the term “wire fraud” originally referred to telegraph and telephone wires, but you can also get charged with wire fraud if the allegedly fraudulent communication took place by cellular phone, email, text message, a website, or a social media application.
Common Defenses to Wire Fraud Charges
You cannot be convicted of wire fraud unless the prosecution can prove that you made the statements in question, you knew that the statements were false, the victim sent you money or made a financial transaction because of the statements, and you benefited financially from the transaction. Therefore, these are some possible defenses to wire fraud charges:
· The false information you gave the victim was the result of an unintentional error. You reasonably believed that the information was true.
· The exaggerations you made were within the realm of normal sales patter. This is called the “puffery” defense.
· You made the statements as a joke, and even though you knew the statements were false, you did not think that the victim would believe you, and you did not intend for the victim to make financial decisions based on the statements.
· The false statements and the resulting transaction happened so long ago that the statute of limitations has expired.
A criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are being accused of wire fraud. Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC in Dallas, Texas to discuss your case.