Federal crimes are, quite often, much more serious — and punished more harshly — than state-level offenses. Mail theft, for example, is a federal crime that can carry significant consequences.
The following is an overview of how mail theft is defined under federal law and the charges that you may face if you are found guilty.
The definition of mail theft
Theft of mail can include many different actions. It could be the taking of a letter, package, or postcard. It is a crime to intercept mail in any way, either through force, deception, or embezzlement.
For example, if you opened mail that was left in your care but not addressed to you, this would still count as mail theft. The act of destruction of mail that is not yours or the purchase of mail also counts as mail theft — so grabbing mail out of your neighbor’s box, tossing it to the ground and stomping on it could also constitute mail theft.
The consequences of mail theft
It is common for post office employees to be accused of mail theft — which sometimes happens after a postal worker discards mail that they can’t deliver for some reason. This is punishable with a fine and a maximum prison sentence of five years. Theft of newspapers is also a crime that can lead to a maximum of one year in prison.
If you have been accused of mail theft, it is important that you take swift action to defend yourself. Make sure that you understand exactly how the law applies to you and the defense options available.