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Time to Prune the Tree, Part 2: The Need to Reassess the Federal Fraud Laws

Fraud laws are now ubiquitous in the U.S. criminal code. The redundancies inherent in current fraud law create the risk that a person can be charged with multiple offenses and can be sentenced to consecutive terms of imprisonment if convicted of them, even though that person committed only one crime. A related difficulty is the problem of identifying whether there is but one fraudulent act or, alternatively, there are multiple instances of fraud. Congress should repeal redundant fraud laws and, if necessary, consider revising the mail and wire fraud acts. That would eliminate the risk of over sentencing without preventing the Department of Justice from protecting the public. It would also indicate that Congress is taking seriously the task of addressing the problem of overcriminalization.

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