The internet is a mixed blessing from a legal point of view. On one hand, it can open up opportunities for trade beyond anything that we have ever seen. On the other hand, it opens up the possibility for some modern crimes such as wire fraud in Chicago. It is important to note that this is a federal offense, even if the local law enforcement agencies in Chicago may be involved in the prosecution process. A conviction can lead to significant fines and a long term of imprisonment (see the Alan Gold case). The courts respond to public outcries about white collar crime defendants who are able to get away with large scale offenses and yet the judges are limited by sentencing guidelines from imposing the harshest terms of imprisonment.
Special circumstances apply if the crime is committed against a financial institution, thereby denting public confidence in the system. In such cases, the defendant may be sent to jail for up to 30 years. The lengthy investigative process has sometimes been associated with an enhanced flight risk. Therefore; the defending attorney will have to address issues of bail quite early on. Then comes the long investigative process during which the facts themselves might appear to be overwhelming the case. The prosecutor will be able to ask for a number of documents and witness statements under court order. The defense will also ask for documents to examine substantive and procedural defects in the prosecution’s case.
Moving to Discovery
When the prosecutor has laid the charge, they will be required to share their findings with the defending attorneys so that they can mount an effective defense. At this stage, it is possible for the prosecutor to control the release of information in such a way as to put the defendant at a disadvantage. That is why an aggressive and experienced attorney is important. There will be a number of high-level negotiations that will require the expertise of someone that knows what the law is and how it operates in practice.
Note that wire fraud is an umbrella charge that can encompass a range of crimes of dishonesty. There are many technical details that will have to be ironed out between the prosecutor and defending team before the case is taken before the judge. Some of the provisions of the law are not clear and may not fully anticipate the level of sophistication that is involved in the case in question.
Therefore, the defense team should anticipate that the prosecutor will want to add other crimes to the charge sheet including identity theft, insurance fraud, bankruptcy fraud, internet fraud, mortgage fraud, healthcare funding fraud and even outright theft or embezzlement. The key ingredient is the use of the interstate wire communications facilities. That may include the phone, fax, internet, wire transfers, email, television and radio.
Under the provisions of 18 U.S.C. Section 1343, wire fraud is defined an act that constitutes the following:
- Knowledge and willful action
- A devised scheme to obtain money or property by false pretenses, promises, or representations
- Communication using the interstate system
The fraud may not actually be complete before a prosecution is instigated. The intention to defraud accompanied by any action to that end might be sufficient for the court to find the defendant guilty. The troubles for the defendant do not end there because there are the financial aspects that can be equally crippling. The court may order restitution, fines and restrictions on future activities. Of course the criminal record means that the person is going to find it difficult to find a job in a similar situation of trust. If you need a great lawyer to take your case, contact David Freidberg attorney at law now at (312) 560-7100.
(image courtesy of Marcus Spiske)