In California, there are laws in place that handle the crime known as mail fraud. Since this is a federal crime, the Californian laws reflect the laws set by the federal government.

It is important to understand the penalties associated with mail fraud. It may surprise you to know how big the impact of a conviction can actually be.

What is mail fraud?

The Congressional Research Service discusses an overview of mail fraud. This includes what constitutes as mail fraud and what the penalties are. Mail fraud is the use of the U.S. postal system in the furtherance of a fraud scheme. Fraud in this case counts as any scheme or attempt to part an individual with their assets, money or access to honest services.

Use of the mail system does not only apply to mail sent out through the U.S.P.S., either. Even mail sent through privatized companies count. Likewise, any type of mail can count toward mail fraud charges. This includes packages, postcards, letters and more.

How are mail fraud convictions handled?

As for sentencing, a conviction of mail fraud is punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison. You may also face a maximum fine of $250,000 if you acted as an individual. The actions of an organization can result in a fine of up to $500,000. If you commit the offense in relation to a natural disaster or target a financial institution, you face up to 30 years in prison. You may also get fined up to $1 million. Identity theft adds on an automatic 2 years of imprisonment. You may also have a period of supervised release and probation.