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Could you get in trouble for throwing out your neighbor’s mail?

On Behalf of | Jul 15, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

It happens once in a while: Your neighbor’s mail ends up in your mailbox. It may be because one piece of mail got stuck to another one or because the postal worker wasn’t paying close attention, but whatever the cause, you should intend to return that mail to sender.

If you receive someone else’s mail, you should not open it, read it or throw it away. Instead, you can place it back into your mailbox after writing “return to sender” on it. You may also put the mail directly into their mailbox for them.

Is it a crime to open your neighbor’s mail?

Yes, it’s a crime to open your neighbor’s mail. In fact, this is a federal offense and could end up landing you in prison if you get caught. This is even more serious if you steal mail intentionally to keep the contents, such as cash or ordered goods.

What should you do if you receive the wrong mail to your mailbox?

The best thing to do is to make sure you return the mail to the post office. Don’t open it up and don’t throw it away. Either one of those things could end up getting you into trouble.

If you don’t know the address on the envelope or the mail is for someone who no longer lives at your address, write on the envelope to let the postal worker know. Then, place it into your mailbox with the flag up, so that the postal worker will return it back to the sender on your behalf. Doing this will help you best protect yourself against accusations of stealing mail.

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