This is archived content from the U.S. Department of Justice website. The information here may be outdated and links may no longer function. Please contact if you have any questions about the archive site.

968. Defenses—Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for mail fraud and wire fraud prosecutions is five years (18 U.S.C. § 3282), except for mail and wire fraud schemes that affect a financial institution, in which case the statute is ten years (18 U.S.C. § 3293).

COMMENT: Consider that a scheme may extend back beyond the limitations period; the gist of the offense is the use of the mails, and if the prohibited use of the mails was within the period, the prosecution is timely. See O. Obermaier and R. Morvillo, White Collar Crime: Business and Regulatory Offenses, § 9.04[5], at 9-67 (Rel. 2, 1991) (citing cases); cf. United States v. Garfinkel, 29 F.3d 1253, 1259 (8th Cir. 1994) (mail fraud scheme may continue after mailing). That a scheme may extend back beyond the limitation period does not preclude prosecution of an offense committed in furtherance of the scheme within the period.

[cited in JM 9-43.100]

Updated January 21, 2020