Most civilization know the it’s illegal to open up mail that is addressed to someone else. In fact, over there is a federal law that makes it a crime to do so. However, the law only applies under very certain circumstances. To aid determine if it’s lawful, take it a look in ~ the complying with reasons for opened mail not addressed come you.

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Accidentally opened Someone Else’s Mail

A federal statute well-known as 18 USC section 1702 renders it illegal to open up correspondence addressed to who else. However, the law cannot be used if girlfriend did not acknowledge that the letter was no yours when you opened it. For example, if you obtained several items in the mail and were opening all the envelopes without paying specific attention to the addressee, that is conceivable that you can open mail that was not yours. Since you walk not identify the mail as belonging to someone else prior to you opened up it, no crime has been committed.

What To do Next:

Although girlfriend may have opened someone else’s letter unintentionally, what you execute with it climate is what yes, really counts. Toss the letter in the garbage, and also you have intentionally obstructed the delivery of the correspondence. The is a crime, and also there may be consequences. If this happens, write go back to Sender or keep in mind Wrong address on the envelope and also pop it into a mailbox. That way, the letter have the right to still eventually reach the intended recipient.

Intentionally opening Mail not Addressed to You

The U.S. Postal service is mainly concerned with mail the is stolen from your custody. In other words, as soon as they have delivered mail to her box, it is no longer in your possession and also they are relying on you to react accordingly if correspondence has actually been mishandled. The statute largely addresses mail the is wrongfully gotten rid of from Postal business custody, such as if the is stolen from a short article Office, a letter carrier, or a mailbox. Must the stolen mail be supplied to conduct one more crime, like identity theft, climate the thief can be facing additional charges.

Mail Theft

If someone opens mail the is not addressed to them v the intention of stealing what is inside, they are subject to consequences, as well. Because that instance, if you understand someone was yielded cash in an envelope or transport an expensive item, opened the mail and also taking the possessions is still a form of theft that has results beyond that of opened mail no addressed to you.

Opening who Else’s Mail v Permission

It’s usual for who to asking a neighbor come collect and open his mail while the is away from home. In this case, you have the right to open his mail as long as that has offered you permission. It is just a crime if the human did not ask friend to and you pick to open it anyway.

Managing the mail of who Who has actually Passed Away

According to USPS, “After a loved one has passed away, accumulating letter can lure unwanted attention. To prevent this, together appointed executor or administrator, you can document a request at the post Office™ come redirect their mail eliminate them native advertisers’ mailing lists.”

If friend lived through someone who has passed away and also received your mail prior to he or she died, you can still manage and open your mail as usual. If you are the executor of the deceased person’s estate and also need to forward his or she mail to a different address, girlfriend will require to contact your local article Office.


Potential Penalties

While opening mail not addressed to you top top accident or through permission is not a crime, a human who steals letter from Postal business custody might be looking at as lot as five years in prison. The sentence might be in enhancement to or concurrent with other prison terms the the thief is sentenced to in relation to various other crimes castle may have actually committed ~ stealing the correspondence. Sizable fines may likewise be involved. Considering the consequences, stealing mail hardly appears worth the effort.

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If you have any additional questions or concerns around opening mail not addressed to you, girlfriend should contact your local article Office come ensure girlfriend are following the law.