Quick Answer: What Happens If You Accidentally Open Someone’s Mail?

However, if you accidentally open someone else’s mail, you have not committed a crime.

The law was created to punish individuals who knowingly open mail that is addressed to someone else.

By taking this action, the USPS will recognize the mistake and redeliver the letter to the correct person’s address.

What is the penalty for opening someone else’s mail?

Intentionally opening, intercepting or hiding someone else’s mail is the felony crime of mail theft. It comes with some heavyweight penalties, including five years’ incarceration in a federal prison.

Is it illegal to throw out someone’s mail?

Yes, there is a federal law that makes that illegal. “Whoever knowingly and willfully obstructs or retards the passage of the mail, or any carrier or conveyance carrying the mail, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.”

Can I get in trouble for opening my husband’s mail?

Robert David Richman. Under federal law, delaying the mail is a crime. Nonetheless, as long as you are not stealing his mail or preventing him from getting it, it is unlikely that you will get in trouble for opening it, at least as far as a federal criminal prosecution is

What do you do if you get someone else’s mail at your address?


  • Write “Return to Sender” on the exterior of the envelope. Then place the mail in an outgoing mailbox.
  • Place a sticky note on your mailbox. State “[Former Resident’s Name] does not live at this address” on either the door or the mailbox itself.
  • Cross out the barcode.
  • Approach your mail carrier directly.

Can I sue someone for opening my mail?

You could sue for the value of the item and any damages to your property. It would probably cost more to sue the person than you would get out of it. You can call the local police or the postal inspector. Mail theft

Can you open someone else’s mail without their permission?

Accidentally Opening Someone Else’s Mail

A federal statute known as 18 USC Section 1702 makes it illegal to open correspondence addressed to someone else. However, the law cannot be applied if you did not recognize that the mail was not yours when you opened it.

Can you destroy someone else’s mail?

Yes, you can get into legal trouble by throwing away someone else’s mail. 18 USC Section 1702 ( 18 U.S. Code § 1702 – Obstruction of correspondence ) states: So, if you destroy your former roommate’s mail, you have committed a crime that potentially subjects you to a fine, or prison, or both.

Can I throw away previous tenants mail?

3 Answers. Do not throw away mail that is not addressed to you. If you receive misaddressed mail, write “Return to Sender, Addressee no longer resides here” on the envelope and put it in a mailbox. Also, if you contact USPS they may redirect the misaddressed mail for you.

Is it illegal to accidentally open someone else’s mail?

You Accidentally Open a Letter Addressed to Someone Else.

Mistakes like this are not illegal. Under federal law, it is illegal to intentionally stop a letter from being delivered to its intended recipient, and that may include not informing the U.S. Postal Service that you have another person’s mail.

Is reading your spouse Email illegal?

One Judge expressed his concern that this law protects the husband’s illegal act by allowing his dishonesty and deception. However, as the law stands you must always get consent before accessing your spouse’s personal email account. Hacking your spouse’s email on a non-shared computer violates the Wiretapping Law.

Is it against the law to put a tracking device on someone’s car?

For starters, it’s entirely legal to use a GPS tracking device on any vehicle or asset you own. But before you use a GPS tracking device on someone else’s person, vehicle, or property, you should do a little research on current federal, state, and local laws.

Is it illegal to spy on spouse?

Some forms of spying aren’t just offensive – they’re illegal. However, if the illegally obtained information leads to legal sources of information, and your spouse can cover his or her tracks, then your spouse’s spying could end up hurting you in court.

Can I sue someone for using my address?

Is it possible to sue someone for using your address for the purpose of committing fraud? If someone uses your ID in an effort to commit fraud, this is a criminal act. If they do not actually manage to harm you, then there would be no basis for a lawsuit, because lawsuits require damages (generally.)

How do I stop someone from using my address?

How to Stop Someone From Using My Address for Deliveries

  1. Write “Not at this Address” on the envelope or piece of mail you receive.
  2. Place the mail back in the mailbox and leave for the mailman to pick up.
  3. Contact the USPS office in your area to speak to a representative and file a complaint if you are still receiving unwanted mail.

How do I stop receiving someone else’s mail?

How to finally stop receiving mail that’s addressed to someone else

  • Step 1: Don’t Throw It Away.
  • Step 2: Cross Out the Bar Code.
  • Step 3: Let Your Mail Carrier Know the Deal.
  • Step 4: Go to Your Post Office.
  • Step 5: File a Complaint.

Is it a criminal Offence to open someone’s mail?

According to the Postal Services Act 2000, it is illegal to open mail that is not addressed to you, unless you can show reasonable excuse. I don’t think that as it had someone else’s name on it, it could deemed as reasonable excuse.

Why is opening someone’s mail a felony?

Yes it is a FEDERAL CRIME to open mail that is not addressed to you. That being said, it is, according to law, to accidentally open someone else’s package because you assumed it was for you because it was delivered to you.

How do I report someone tampering with my mail?

Immediately report theft, tampering, or destruction of mail or mailboxes to your Postmaster. Or click here to report it to the Postal Inspectors online, or call 1-877-876-2455 (press 5).