Can you get charged for felony for opening a parcel accidentally? Some incompetent delivery guy put a $1000 parcel in the lobby of my apartment, and not realizing that only 1 of the 2 boxes was mine, I took them both to my apartment as quickly as possible and opened them, then I realized only one of the parcels was mine. I put it back to the lobby. Question is if I can get charged for felony.

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    I don't get why the driver was "incompetent"... because of the high value? If it was stupid to leave it in the lobby, then why did you put it back there? Was he incompetent for leaving your package in the lobby, or just for leaving your neighbor's package there? What made you assume they were both yours? If it's a common lobby, wouldn't you be the one who messed up for assuming it was yours?
    – James
    Commented Jul 29, 2019 at 12:08

1 Answer 1


Theoretically you could, but that's highly unlikely if what you say is all there is to it. The prosecutor would have to have good evidence that you had a criminal intent, for example intended to make off with the goods. You could even attach a note of explanation to overcome any suspicion of criminal intent.

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    The crime of theft generally requires mens rea (i.e. guilty intent). The fact that the OP quickly returned the goods would be sufficient to demonstrate the lack of it. Commented Jul 28, 2019 at 14:38
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    This happens (innocently) all the time in NYC. I would just tape it back up and put it back in the hallway. Optional: Atone for your error by correcting the next mis-delivered package and bring it to the proper dropoff point
    – gatorback
    Commented Jul 28, 2019 at 17:02
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    People make mistakes all the time: I doubt people get charged very often.
    – user6726
    Commented Jul 28, 2019 at 20:51
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    I think the situation is different from picking up both packages, the other recipient calling the police, police somehow finding the second package with you, and then you claim you opened it accidentally.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jul 29, 2019 at 6:42

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