Stealing mail or obtaining it through fraud or deception is a serious federal crime and carries severe penalties. Even attempting to commit mail theft or having stolen mail, letters, or packages in your possession can lead to a hefty fine and jail time, so if you are being investigated for mail theft, it is important to seek the aid of an experienced white collar crime attorney who can help you formulate a defense.
What Qualifies as Mail Theft?
Although the U.S. Postal Service delivers advertisements, personal letters, and coupons, it also transports valuable items, such as credit cards, checks, merchandise, and prescription medications. To help deter the theft of these types of items, Congress made mail theft a federal offense and defined it broadly as taking any piece of mail that does not belong to them for any purpose. A piece of mail could be anything from a postcard or a letter to a package or a mail bag. Furthermore, the accused does not need to have intended to keep the mail that was taken in order to be charged with mail theft. Purchasing, receiving, possessing, destroying, and hiding mail that someone knew was stolen also falls under the broad category of mail theft.
Allegations of mail theft are often accompanied by additional charges of identity theft, especially if personal identifying information, such as an address, social security number, driver’s license number, or bank account information was taken and used. Those who are convicted of mail theft face up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
Types of Mail Theft
One of the most commonly charged mail theft schemes is known as volume mail theft, or a volume attack. These schemes involve directly targeting postal vehicles, apartment mailboxes, mail satchels, collection boxes, and five or more post office boxes. Other mail theft charges, on the other hand, involve allegations against employees who work for the post office, or the airline that transports mail parcels. These cases often involve a network of more than one person who allegedly helped facilitate the theft, which can further complicate the charges.
The type of mail theft being charged has an important impact on defense strategy. For instance, employees of the U.S. Postal Service who are accused of mail theft are prosecuted under a separate statute, that prohibits employees from embezzling or removing mail that has been entrusted to them and so will involve different defenses than those presented on behalf of non-employees. Generally, all mail theft cases fall under federal jurisdiction and are aggressively prosecuted.
Contact us Today to Consult With an Experienced Florida White Collar Crime Attorney
The federal offense of mail theft is broadly defined and covers a wide range of activities, many of which some defendants may not have known were unlawful. Having the guidance of an experienced defense attorney can make all the difference in the outcome of these types of cases, so if you are being investigated for or have been charged with mail theft, please call Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. Criminal Defense Attorneys in South Florida at 305-670-9919 to schedule a consultation with a white collar crime attorney who is well-versed in both state and federal law.