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Is it a crime to vandalize and destroy mailboxes?

On Behalf of | Oct 10, 2023 | Federal Offenses |

While things like instant messaging and email exist, people continue to use the mail to send physical letters and documents across America. Mailboxes allow people to receive mail and remain mainstay fixtures in any home.

But mailboxes, especially the type that’s mounted curbside, are popular targets for vandalism and damage. Whether writing graffiti or slipping a lit firecracker inside, there are many ways to break and destroy mailboxes.

However, mailboxes are protected by federal law, and anyone who damages them can face criminal charges.

Damaging a mailbox is a federal crime

Per the U.S. Code, anyone who willfully damages or destroys any mailbox or other similar receptacle meant to receive mail is guilty of a federal offense.

The law also prohibits anyone from breaking open a mailbox to destroy the mail inside. This law applies regardless of the type of mail damaged, whether it’s documents, prescription medicine or written correspondence.

Penalties for mailbox damage

Those who are convicted of destroying a mailbox or the mail inside can spend up to three years in prison and pay as much as $250,000 in fines.

A prank with a steep cost

Vandalizing a mailbox might be a funny prank that seemingly hurts nobody, but federal law hands out very harsh penalties to anyone convicted of damaging a mail receptacle. Those who face federal charges for mailbox destruction should take their hearing seriously because prison time and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines await them, on top of a federal criminal conviction on record.