Q:

Is it a federal offense to open someone's mailbox?

A:

Quick Answer

The FindLaw Blotter reports that intentionally opening anyone's mail or mailbox without their permission is a felony. However, if you have permission to check a neighbor's mail while they are away or intend to forward the contents of the mailbox, doing so is not a crime.

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Is it a federal offense to open someone's mailbox?
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Full Answer

According to US Code, anyone who takes or opens another person's mail will either be fine or imprisoned. Mail theft can occur from a post office, private mail box or any other authorized receptacle. It is equally forbidden to tamper with someone's private mailbox as it is to tamper with a public mail receptacle. It is also illegal to buy or sell any item stolen from a mailbox.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is the law for opening someone else's mail?

    A:

    As of 2014, it is a violation of federal law for anyone to open mail other than the addressee or the government. A U.S. code stipulates that anyone who takes an item of mail from a post office, mail depository or postal carrier before it is delivered to the addressee or opens, hides or destroys mail shall be fined, imprisoned for up to five years or both.

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    What should you do if someone opens your postal mail?

    A:

    Someone whose mail has been intercepted and opened by another person should report the crime to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which is the federal law enforcement and security arm of the U.S. Postal Service. If the situation is urgent, the USPS recommends contacting the nearest law enforcement agency.

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    Is opening someone else's mail a crime?

    A:

    According to the official website for the United States Post Office, opening someone else's mail is a crime and can be categorized under different offenses depending on the situation. For example, Title 18, U.S. Code Section 1708 specifies laws regarding "theft or receipt of stolen mail [of a general nature]."

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    Is it illegal to throw away someone else's mail?

    A:

    The Legal Information Institute at Cornell University reveals that throwing away someone else’s mail is illegal and violates a federal statute. The statute is referred to 18 U.S. Code 1702, known as “Obstruction of Correspondence.”

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