Is it legal to ship an envelope of glitter to somebody (e.g. Ship Your Enemies Glitter)?

If it's not, what are the potential penalties?

  • What do you really mean? Say exactly what you are proposing to do. – user6726 Aug 30 '16 at 16:58
  • It's literally just mailing someone an envelope full of glitter with the intent to make a mess. – Vemonus Aug 30 '16 at 16:58
  • But I've been told there could possibly maybe be legality issues related to it but can't find any definitive information so I thought I'd ask. – Vemonus Aug 30 '16 at 16:59
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    @Vemonus You don't need to tell us what you are proposing to do. I think I've made the question generic enough to get to your legal question without making it dependent on your specific case. – user3851 Aug 30 '16 at 17:03
  • Okay, the question is rehabilitated. – user6726 Aug 30 '16 at 17:06

This may constitutes harassment, which is against the law in most jurisdictions. But what counts as legal harassment is not obvious. Taking Washington state as an exemplar, RCW 9a.46, the stated intent of the law is to criminalize "repeated invasions of a person's privacy by acts and threats which show a pattern of harassment designed to coerce, intimidate, or humiliate the victim", and mailing glitter in order to annoy a person would not match that desideratum. In Washington, the law is limited to threats of physical harm or restraint or the intent to "substantially harm the person threatened or another with respect to his or her physical or mental health or safety". There is no legal standard for judging what constitutes substantial harm to mental health.

California defines "harassment" in its civil code as

unlawful violence, a credible threat of violence, or a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person that seriously alarms, annoys, or harasses the person, and that serves no legitimate purpose. The course of conduct must be such as would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and must actually cause substantial emotional distress to the petitioner.

More words, but still it is left to the jury to decide whether an act causes severe emotional distress. Emphasis was added in the text to highlight important elements missing from sending glitter to someone for the purpose of annoying. In general, annoying someone is not against the law, but repeatedly and severely annoying someone could be.

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    Wouldn't there also be a possibility of a civil lawsuit when the victim can claim damages from the glitter attack in form of cost for cleanup? – Philipp Aug 31 '16 at 10:39
  • True, but the probability of any substantial actual damages is low. Depends on what it's made of and where you open it. – user6726 Aug 31 '16 at 15:08
  • So if it is hot in my home and I have a strong ventilator turned on, open the envelope near that ventilator, and the glitter goes in my TV and causes electrical damage, would the sender have to pay the damages? – gnasher729 Sep 1 '16 at 7:54

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