Question

Is it a federal offense to throw away someone else's mail?

I'm nineteen, and things at home between my mom and I have been pretty bad, so I decided to unofficially leave the house and stay somewhere safe (we got into a fight at one point, and she hit me in the face). Before I left, I know that I had a few unopened things, mostly bank statements or letters from the corporate office of the company I work for. I came back home yesterday to check in on my mail, since my mom told me I got a package, and the only things I could find were the package and one recent bank statement. I know for sure I had more mail than that, and I think my mom might have thrown my mail away out of spite (it sounds crazy, but, my mom is for the lack of a better word, crazy). I know she had been looking through my mail because she brought up a doctor's appointment that I have in a few weeks when we talked on the phone, yet when I came home, I couldn't find that letter. Is there anything I could do to recover the mail, and have some sort of consequences directed towards my mom?

Answers

Yes, in general, it is a violation of federal law to "tamper with" or prevent delivery of the US Mail. However, once it is "delivered" to the proper address, it raises the question of whether the feds have jurisdiction over who in your household has the express or implied right to receive, handle or open your mail. For instance, they could bundle up your mail and send it to you via any means of carriage, if you're away, or simply hold it for you until you return.

Because you're over 18, your crazy mom may be considered a "trustee" in possession of your mail and you could, in theory, enforce your right to possession and privacy of your own mail. You can also get your own post-office box and have your personal mail sent there instead of your home.

#1

There is a law against opening mail that isn't yours but I don't think there is a law against throwing away someone's mail. Here's a great link for your for more info.

http://www.uspsoig.gov/

Call your doctor's office to verify your appointment info. As for your job info, are you allowed in the house? Does your keys still work? You may want to check your home, she may not have thrown it away. Be safe and wish you the best of luck. Don't break any laws trying to retrieve your stuff.

#2