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Defining Wire Fraud

Although many people are aware of the term “wire fraud,” few are aware of how broad the definition of this offense really is. Unfortunately, this means that many people are unfairly accused of committing wire fraud, which can be charged in both state and federal court, making it especially important for these individuals to speak with an experienced white collar crime attorney who can help them begin formulating a strong defense.

The Florida Communications Fraud Act

Both federal and state law specifically prohibit wire fraud in Florida, which is defined as communicating by mail, wire, or radio to defraud one or more persons. What qualifies as communication is also construed broadly to include transmitting, transferring, or causing someone else to transmit or transfer any of the following:

  • Signs;
  • Signals;
  • Writing;
  • Images;
  • Sounds;
  • Data; or
  • Intelligence of any nature.

Under this law, using electronics, such as computers, the internet, or phones to transmit this type of information is unlawful if the person did so with the intent to engage in a scheme to defraud. This includes any ongoing course of conduct undertaken with the intent to defraud someone else or to obtain property by false or fraudulent pretenses or willful misrepresentations of a future act. The latter includes real property, as well as tangible or intangible personal property, such as rights, privileges, interests, and services.

Penalties

The severity of the sentences of those who are convicted of wire fraud depends on the value of the property in question. If, for example, the value of the property obtained was worth less than $300, a defendant would face a first degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a year in prison. However, if the value exceeds $300, a defendant can expect to face the consequences of a third degree felony conviction, which could be as severe as five years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine. It’s also important to keep in mind that prosecutors are permitted to add up the value of all of the property unlawfully obtained, even if they were allegedly collected from multiple parties, as long as they were obtained using a single scheme to defraud.

Statute of Limitations

Under Florida law, a person cannot be charged with wire fraud if five or more years have passed since the alleged offense actually occurred. However, this period of limitation doesn’t count when a defendant is:

  • Continuously absent from the state; or
  • Without a reasonably ascertainable residence or place of work in the state.

Even in these cases, the five year statute of limitations cannot be extended by more than a year.

The Legal Representation You Deserve

Being charged with a crime can be an emotionally, physically, and financially taxing experience that no one should have to go through alone. To learn more about your own legal options and possible defenses to a wire fraud charge, please call dedicated white collar crime lawyer Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. at (305) 670-9919 today. And remember, initial consultations are conducted free of charge, so please don’t hesitate to call or contact our legal team online.

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