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Federal Appeals for Mortgage and Bank Fraud Convictions

Federal Appellate Lawyers Representing Clients Convicted of Mortgage Fraud and Bank Fraud Nationwide

Linda Julin McNamara
Attorney Linda Julin McNamara
Mortgage and Bank Fraud Appeals Team Lead
Former Deputy Chief, Appellate Division
Elizabeth Stepp
Attorney Elizabeth K. Stepp
Mortgage and Bank Fraud Appeals Team
Partner & Yale Graduate
Nick Oberheiden
Attorney Nick Oberheiden
Mortgage and Bank Fraud Appeals Team
envelope iconContact Nick

At the federal level, mortgage fraud and bank fraud convictions have substantial consequences. In most cases, convictions carry up to a $1 million fine and 30 years in federal prison, though convictions for multiple counts or multiple charges (i.e., bank fraud and wire fraud) can result in financially crippling fines and an effective life sentence. As a result, if you have been convicted of one of these crimes, it is important that you speak with a federal appeals lawyer as soon as possible.

At Oberheiden P.C, we focus our practice on representing defendants in high-stakes federal white-collar cases, and we routinely represent both new and existing clients on appeal. We have significant experience in federal cases involving allegations and convictions of mortgage fraud and bank fraud. If you have recently been convicted, or if you are concerned about the possibility of a conviction, we encourage you to contact us immediately to discuss the options you have available.

Understanding the Consequences of a Federal Mortgage or Bank Fraud Conviction

As we mentioned above—and as you may well know already—the consequences of a federal mortgage or bank fraud conviction can be severe. The federal bank fraud statute (18 U.S.C. Section 1344) and the federal wire fraud statute (18 U.S.C. Section 1343) both impose some of the harshest penalties among all federal criminal fraud statutes. Along with bank fraud charges under Section 1344, wire fraud charges are common in federal bank and mortgage fraud cases as well; and, while Section 1344 requires proof of a scheme or artifice to defraud a financial institution (or obtain funds or other assets from a financial institution by false pretenses), Section 1343 allows for a conviction in cases in which the alleged scheme or artifice does not target a “financial institution” as defined under federal law.

While it is possible to avoid the maximum sentence under the federal bank fraud and mortgage fraud statutes in many cases (and in many cases it is possible to avoid a conviction entirely), some defendants will face the harsh consequences of a conviction unnecessarily. In federal mortgage and bank fraud cases, sentences may include:

  • Federal prison time (up to 30 years for each count of bank fraud and wire fraud)
  • Probation and/or parole (potentially in addition to federal prison time)
  • Criminal fines (up to $1 million for each count)
  • Restitution of the amounts fraudulently obtained

Successfully appealing a federal mortgage fraud or bank fraud conviction potentially allows you to avoid all of these consequences and get back to your normal life. While a successful appeal will lead to a retrial in some cases, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) won’t always choose to re-prosecute, and some appellate decisions can result in a reversal without a remand for retrial.

Put our highly experienced team on your side

Dr. Nick Oberheiden
Dr. Nick Oberheiden

Founder

Attorney-at-Law

Lynette S. Byrd
Lynette S. Byrd

Former DOJ Trial Attorney

Partner

Brian J. Kuester
Brian J. Kuester

Former U.S. Attorney

Amanda Marshall
Amanda Marshall

Former U.S. Attorney

Local Counsel

Joe Brown
Joe Brown

Former U.S. Attorney

Local Counsel

John W. Sellers
John W. Sellers

Former Senior DOJ Trial Attorney

Linda Julin McNamara
Linda Julin McNamara

Federal Appeals Attorney

Aaron L. Wiley
Aaron L. Wiley

Former DOJ attorney

Local Counsel

Roger Bach
Roger Bach

Former Special Agent (DOJ)

Chris Quick
Chris J. Quick

Former Special Agent (FBI & IRS-CI)

Michael S. Koslow
Michael S. Koslow

Former Supervisory Special Agent (DOD-OIG)

Ray Yuen
Ray Yuen

Former Supervisory Special Agent (FBI)

Understanding the Grounds to Appeal a Federal Mortgage or Bank Fraud Conviction

When considering the possibility of an appeal, it is important to understand the grounds for appeal under federal law. In federal cases, an appeal is not a retrial. Instead, appeals focus on redressing issues that occur during the pre-trial and trial phases. With this in mind, some examples of potential grounds for appealing a federal mortgage fraud or bank fraud conviction include:

1. Judicial Errors During Jury Selection (Voir Dire)

During the jury selection process (also known as voir dire), federal criminal defendants are afforded substantial protections that are intended to ensure a fair trial by a jury of the defendant’s peers. If the trial judge does not adequately enforce these protections, this can potentially justify an appeal in the event of a subsequent conviction. Some examples of errors that may support an appeal in a federal mortgage fraud or bank fraud case include:

  • Improperly refusing to permit juror strikes by the defense
  • Improperly allowing juror strikes by the prosecution
  • Improperly restricting the questions the defense is allowed to ask
  • Allowing the prosecution to ask improper questions of potential jurors
  • Allowing the prosecution to impanel a jury that is incapable of rendering an unbiased decision

2. Improper Admission or Exclusion of Evidence

Along with improperly allowing or excluding jurors, improperly allowing or excluding evidence can also justify a federal appeal in some cases. When dealing with evidentiary issues, one of the key questions is whether the evidence was material. If the evidence wasn’t material, then the judge’s decision was not prejudicial to the outcome of trial. But, if the evidence was material (i.e., if the judge excluded evidence regarding the defendant’s lack of intent), then its exclusion could justify a reversal.

3. Incorrect Rulings on Pre-Trial or Trial Motions

Before and during a federal criminal trial, defense counsel and the DOJ are both likely to file numerous motions seeking to exclude evidence, limit discovery, and resolve a variety of other issues before they get to the jury (or before the judge renders a verdict in the case of a bench trial). Incorrect rules on these motions can justify appeals in some cases.

Here, too, materiality and the prejudicial effect (if any) of the judge’s error are key considerations. Federal appellate judges at the U.S. Courts of Appeal will defer to trial judges’ discretion in many cases, and convincing them that they should not defer to a trial judge’s discretion requires clear evidence that a trial judge’s error is responsible for an unjust outcome.

4. Violation of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines or Constitutional Sentencing Protections

Even if it is not possible to challenge your mortgage fraud or bank fraud conviction, it may still be possible to challenge your sentence on appeal. Two of the primary ways to challenge a sentence following a federal criminal trial are: (i) to show that the sentence is not supported by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines; and, (ii) to show that the sentence violates the constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

When you hire an experienced appellate lawyer to evaluate your options, your lawyer will examine not only the options for challenging your conviction, but also your options for challenging your sentence. While having your conviction overturned is the ideal scenario—and while this is always our first priority at Oberheiden P.C.—it is important to conduct a realistic assessment and pursue an appellate strategy that is justified by the factual and legal issues at hand.

5. The Weight of the Evidence Does Not Support the Judge’s or Jury’s Decision

The closest thing to a retrial in a federal criminal appeal is arguing that the weight of the evidence does not support the judge’s or jury’s decision. Here, too, appellate judges will defer to the criminal justice process in most cases; but, if your federal appellate team can present a compelling case for why the judge or jury got it wrong, this can produce a successful appeal as well.

FAQs: Appealing a Federal Mortgage Fraud or Bank Fraud Conviction

How long do I have to appeal a federal mortgage fraud or bank fraud conviction?

 

Under the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, the general rule is that you have 14 days to file a notice of appeal. While this notice period may run from the date of your conviction, there can be various other triggering events as well. As a result, if you have questions about filing an appeal and have not yet contacted a lawyer, you should do so as soon as possible.

How do I appeal a federal mortgage fraud or bank fraud conviction?

 

The process of appealing a federal mortgage fraud or bank fraud conviction starts with filing a notice of appeal—within 14 days of your conviction in most cases. While this is a fairly simple pleading, and nothing like the substantive appeal you will need to file later in the process, it is still important that you hire an experienced federal appellate lawyer to prepare and file it on your behalf. When you timely file a notice of appeal, this preserves your appellate rights, and then the court will set the schedule for the next stages in the process.

What are the grounds to appeal a federal mortgage fraud or bank fraud conviction?

 

Generally, the grounds for appealing a federal mortgage fraud or bank fraud conviction relate to errors during the pre-trial or trial process—not to the substantive facts of your case. When you engage a federal appellate law firm to represent you, the firm’s lawyers will examine all possible grounds for filing an appeal. These can range from issues during jury selection to the jury rendering a decision that is not supported by the substantial weight of the evidence.


Speak with a Federal Appellate Lawyer About Your Mortgage Fraud or Bank Fraud Conviction

If you need to speak with a lawyer about appealing a federal mortgage fraud or bank fraud conviction, we encourage you to contact us promptly. To arrange a free and confidential consultation with a federal appellate lawyer at Oberheiden P.C., please call 888-680-1745 or inquire online today.

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