Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations on mail and wire fraud prosecutions can also provide a valuable defense if the alleged fraud occurred far enough back in time. For both the mail and wire fraud statutes, the statute of limitations is five years. The statute begins to run from the last use of mails or wires in furtherance of the scheme. This is an important note, because the statute does not begin to run at the formation of the scheme, but rather at the last use of the mails or wires. This means that the scheme can be five years old, but if it is still going and the mails are last used in furtherance of it in the fifth year, only then will the statute of limitations begin to run. A related issue is whether the defendant withdrew from the conspiracy, since it will not matter whether he was the one to actually use the mails or wires so long as such use is reasonably foreseeable. Another important note – if the scheme affects a financial institution, the statute of limitations doubles to ten years. Further, in cases affecting financial institutions, both the fines and maximum terms of imprisonment are significantly raised if not doubled.