If someone opens emails that are not addressed to them with the intention of stealing what it contains, they are also subject to consequences. For example, if you know someone has delivered money in an envelope or shipped an expensive item, opening the mail and taking back the goods is always a form of theft that has consequences beyond opening the mail that is not addressed to you. If you lived with someone who passed away and you received their mail before they died, you can manage and open their mail as usual. If you are the executor of the deceased`s estate and need to send mail to a different address, you must contact your local post office. You won`t get in trouble if you follow their instructions if someone has asked you to open their email. The U.S. Postal Service primarily deals with items intentionally stolen by a carrier or mailbox, as these items can be used to commit other crimes such as identity theft. The U.S.P.S. won`t care if you open a neighbor`s mail while she`s in the hospital. As long as you have permission, it is very unlikely that you will end up in court for federal mail theft. Maybe you`re staying in an apartment complex and there`s a shared post office that often has a stack of loose letters for different tenants. If you take and open a letter that is not addressed to you, you are committing mail theft. A federal law known as 18 USC Section 1702 makes it illegal to open correspondence addressed to someone else.

However, the law cannot be enforced if you did not know when you opened it that the mail does not belong to you. For example, if you have received several items in the mail and opened all the envelopes without paying close attention to the recipient, it is conceivable that you open mail that does not belong to you. Since you did not recognize the mail as someone else before opening it, no crime was committed. If it was an accident, it does not meet the definition of obstruction of correspondence. Intent is an important element that the prosecution must prove in order to obtain a conviction. It is not a criminal offence if you reasonably thought that the mail you opened belonged to you. This often happens when mail is addressed to a former tenant or someone else who no longer lives in your apartment, such as a former roommate. Sometimes the mail is misdirected – maybe the sender wrote the wrong apartment number on an envelope and your neighbor`s mail is delivered to you by mistake. In any case, you will always need a qualified defense attorney to help you prove your lack of intent if you have been charged. If you do anything to someone else`s mail, you can put yourself in hot water, even if you just glance at the sender`s address while handing it over to them. Some federal laws make it illegal to take, steal, intercept, open, damage or destroy another person`s mail, or interfere with the delivery of mail. You could face charges of stealing mail or “obstructing correspondence” if you get caught doing any of these things.

Here are some common scenarios when you receive someone else`s mail: In addition, police are allowed to open packages deemed illegal by FedEx or UPS. You can open a package without a search warrant, and the police can then search the package for illegal contraband. Yes, it is a federal crime to open emails addressed to another person without their permission. In addition, many states have their own laws against unauthorized opening of mail. For example, in California, it is by no means illegal to open someone else`s mail. Although there are cases where it might be legal. The U.S. Postal Service deals primarily with stolen mail in their custody. In other words, once they deliver the mail to your mailbox, it is no longer in their possession and they rely on you to respond appropriately if the correspondence has been handled incorrectly. The Act applies primarily to postal items that are unlawfully removed from the custody of the postal service, such as when stolen from a post office, letter carrier or mailbox.