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Mail Felony

  1. Aug 8, 2006 #1
    Is it only a felony if one opens another's mail or does opening a mailbox also count as a felony?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 8, 2006 #2


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    I don't think it's a felony, but messing with someone else's mailbox is a federal offense. It's definitely illegal to put things in people's mailboxes, as well as illegal to take things out.

    It's doubtful charges would actually be brought against someone putting things in a mailbox, though. I think it would be more expensive to hire people to deliver flyers, etc. personally than to mail them, so there's no large scale effort to defraud the government out of their fair share of postage, or whatever the reasoning for the law is.

    It's usually some local volunteer inadvertantly violating the law. We ran into this back in Nebraska when my daughter delivered our suburban town's small weekly newspaper and the military base's weekly newspaper - for a couple of weeks, she thought putting the newspaper in the mailboxes where they'd stay dry would be a good idea. Putting the base newspaper in the mailboxes was kind of ironic in that she managed to make the government an accomplice in violating federal law. Of course, being a kid, she was just told she had to stop.
  4. Aug 8, 2006 #3
    Mailboxes are considered federal property, and the charges can vary depending on the degree of mail tampering. Yes its against the law to open mail addressed to someone other then yourself, unless your a minor, and the person opening your mail is a parent/guardian.
    Even if you share a address with someone, they can not open mail addressed to you.
    If you open someone mail by mistake ..tape it closed...write on it, Delivered to the wrong address.
    You can report mail tampering to your postmaster, they may ask you to fill out a form.
  5. Aug 8, 2006 #4


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    I had some friends in high school who stole 4 mailboxes.

    ...I'm talking about the big ones you drop off mail into. Yep, they stole those big freaking heavy things.

    The police caught them in the trails (the dykes we called it) burning the mail, smashing the mailboxes, and opening mail.

    Since they were minors they only got a $100 fine and that's it.

    Note: Not good friends with them anymore. I wasn't at the time also but a few months prior to the incident.
  6. Aug 8, 2006 #5
    Local police caught a guy stealing mail out of one of the big blue drop boxes. The guy had a wire coat hanger with a piece of duct tape on the end. He would feed it down through the small slot in the box and fish out mail which stuck to the duct tape.

    It turns out that the guy had a very profitable identity theft and check washing business. He won't be getting out of jail anytime soon.
  7. Aug 9, 2006 #6
    My mother is in a strange position. She has squatters living in her house. Their mail is sent there. I was wondering by them opening her mailbox as squatters, is a crime.
  8. Aug 9, 2006 #7


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    Them trespassing on her property certainly is. I don't know if opening her mailbox is, but I wonder if them putting their outgoing mail into it is.

    She should contact the local postmaster and ask about that, and see if there's a way to have all mail being sent to that address held at the post office or returned to sender. Certainly if any of her mail is going to that address (I'm assuming it's a second home or rental property that they've taken over and not her primary residence), if they touch that, then it's a crime. Maybe she should send a magazine subscription to that address in her own name, or get herself onto a bunch of junk mail lists with that address, so if they take any of that out of the box, then it's an unambiguous federal crime.
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