Yes, stealing mail is a federal crime. Anyone accused of mail theft must understand that the United States Postal Service (USPS) takes mail theft very seriously. Those who commit this offense can face serious penalties.
What should you know about mail theft, the consequences of mail theft charges, and how to protect yourself from becoming a victim of mail theft?
What Counts as Mail Theft?
According to the USPS website, mail theft is “the unauthorized taking or use of postal items or services.”
- Taking items out of someone else’s mailbox without permission
- Intercepting mail that was intended for someone else
- Using someone else’s postage stamps without their consent
- Opening someone else’s letter without their permission
- Forging another person’s signature on a package or letter
In all cases, it must be intentional for law enforcement to consider it a federal offense.
The United States Postal Inspection Service recommends the following to protect against mail theft:
- Promptly pick up your mail
- Contact USPS and/or the sender about overdue mail
- Never mail cash
- Use the USPS “hold for pickup” service
- Request signature confirmation
- File a change of address if you’re moving
- Submit a request for a temporary mail hold if you’re traveling or away from home
Consequences of Mail Theft Charges
The consequences of mail theft charges vary depending on the severity of the crime and whether you did it for personal gain.
If convicted of stealing just one piece of mail, you could face up to five years in prison and/or up to $250,000 in fines. If convicted on multiple counts of mail theft or if there were extenuating circumstances involved you could face even harsher penalties. These include longer prison sentences and higher fines. Extenuating circumstances include fraud or identity theft.
Have You Been Accused of Stealing Mail?
The first thing anyone accused of a crime should do is familiarize themselves with their rights under the law. This protects you and ensures law enforcement and the court system follows the appropriate procedures throughout your case.
Organize Your Evidence
It’s also wise to start gathering evidence that supports your innocence as soon as possible after you’re accused. This could include:
- Witness statements
- Photographs that prove your location when the alleged offense occurred
- Anything else that could help prove your innocence
If possible, it’s best to work with an experienced attorney who can help guide your efforts in gathering evidence in a way that complies with all applicable laws and regulations.
Accusations of mail theft are serious. If accused, don’t panic. An experienced lawyer will know all the ins and outs of criminal law and will be able to provide tailored advice based on your individual circumstances. They understand the legal system and can help you navigate your way through it.
If you’ve been accused of stealing mail or you have questions about crimes related to the USPS, contact David Lindsey for more information or to schedule a free consultation.