There are over 30 million instances of mail theft a year in New York. Online shopping is convenient, but there comes an added risk of losing a package at your doorstep. You might be wondering what to do if you have been accused of mail theft. What are the consequences? Who do you talk to for defense?
Contact a qualified, experienced criminal defense lawyer if you are accused of mail fraud or theft in New York. It is a serious offense to steal someone’s mail, and you face substantial penalties if caught. With legal assistance, you can avoid unnecessary repercussions. With the right legal representation, you can defend yourself effectively.
Mail Fraud Penalties: Is Mail Theft a Felony?
Remember that the USPS is a federal agency. This makes mail theft a felony under US Code 18 Section 1708. Obtaining someone else’s mail by deception, fraud, embezzlement, or some other means can still be considered mail theft if you obtain it without physically stealing it.
A mail theft charge may be imposed if you steal or fraudulently obtain any posted item, including postcards, letters, and packages. Even if the letter has never been opened, hiding or destroying another’s mail may constitute mail theft.
Is There Jail Time for Stealing Mail?
Mail theft can have a 5-year prison sentence in federal prison and fines of up to $250,000. In 2021, a man was convicted of dressing as a postal employee to open mailboxes. He admitted to stealing 49 pieces of first-class mail and was sentenced to home detention for six months, 120 hours of community service, and then a further three-years supervision.
There is a statute of limitations of five years. However, there are exceptions. In 1995, in the case of United States v. Cunningham, there was a statute of limitations defense to an indictment charging violation of 18 USCS § 1708 was denied without prejudice, even though mail at issue was designated for delivery in October 1987 and March 1988, indictment did not issue until 1995, and 18 USCS § 3282 provides 5-year limitations period, because § 1708 covers knowing possession of stolen mail, and indictment charges mail was stashed under the porch of the house owned by the defendant until 1993.
How to Deal with Mail Theft Charges
It’s important to take the time to write down questions before talking to an attorney. Jot down any questions you can think of that you might want to have answered during the initial consultation. Asking questions allows you to learn more about your case and what the attorney believes will happen. Some of the questions to ask include the following.
- How long will the case take?
- What steps can I take to secure the lowest sentencing possible?
- How long have you practiced law?
- What kind of cases have you handled before?
- How were similar cases resolved?
- How much will my defense cost, and do you offer payment plans?
Speak with a Defense Lawyer for Mail Fraud Legal Issues
If you are accused of mail theft, it is important to hire the right attorney. Look for references and reviews of the attorney you are considering. Make sure to ask questions, write down the answers, and advocate for yourself. Your attorney will help, but you must also help yourself. Collect all evidence and information possible that will help you in the case. Hire an experienced attorney who has worked on mail theft cases before and work closely on the case with them.