What is Mail Theft?

There are many reasons why mail addressed to someone else may be in an individual’s possession. Perhaps the mail carrier accidentally delivered it to the wrong person or the addressee asked the individual to pick up his or her mail.

However, if an individual intends to deprive the addressee of his or her mail by appropriating it without his or her consent, the law may consider it mail theft.

What counts as mail?

Under the Texas Penal Code, mail includes sealed articles that an individual appropriates after delivery but before receipt by the addressee. It also includes such articles left for a delivery service or common carrier to collect. Specific examples of mail include the following:

  • Postal cards
  • Letters
  • Sealed bags
  • Packages

What factors make a charge of mail theft worse?

Charges of mail theft may be more serious if the addressee is an elderly person or an individual with a disability and the charged individual knew that or had reason to believe that it is so. Charges may also be more serious if the individual who appropriated the mail did so with the intent to obtain identifying information for purposes of committing a fraudulent act.

What else determines the severity of mail theft charges?

In addition to the vulnerability of the alleged victim and the intent behind the alleged theft, another factor that influences the severity of mail theft charges is how many addressees the alleged activity affected. Mail appropriated from more than 30 addressees could incur felony charges, while mail appropriated from fewer than 10 would be a Class A misdemeanor.

There are no misdemeanor charges for mail theft involving the fraudulent possession or use of identifying information.

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