The mail lady knocked on my door, handed me a stack of mail, and asked for me to sign for one piece of certified mail for my dad. I declined.

She ended up snatching all the mail she handed me which was primarily non certified (Only one piece was certified which meant it required a signature). She said she was destroying all the mail and we would never receive it or any future mail at that address. She explained she was making my life difficult like I was making hers by not signing for the one piece of certified mail to my dad. I asked what she was doing with all the mail she snatched back that didn't require a signature and she replied she was throwing it away. She then drove off.

Did she do at least two crimes?: 1) steal property 2) threaten to destroy property for the purpose of intimidation


2 Answers 2


I cannot answer whether this particular person committed a crime or not. Only a court can answer that. I can give you general information about laws involving destruction of mail.

Under 18 USC 1703:

Whoever, being a Postal Service officer or employee, unlawfully secretes, destroys, detains, delays, or opens any letter, postal card, package, bag, or mail entrusted to him or which shall come into his possession, and which was intended to be conveyed by mail, or carried or delivered by any carrier or other employee of the Postal Service, or forwarded through or delivered from any post office or station thereof established by authority of the Postmaster General or the Postal Service, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

So it would generally be a crime to deliberately destroy or delay mail that was otherwise deliverable.

If a carrier took back mail that should have been delivered, that would probably count as "detaining" or "delaying" that mail. In the case at hand, though, I suppose the carrier might argue that when you refused to sign for the letter, it gave her reason to doubt that the addressee(s) actually lived there, in which case perhaps the mail should not have been delivered after all. So she might say that she took it all back to the post office for further investigation as to where or whether it should be delivered.

Destroying the mail would similarly be illegal. However, based on other information in your question that is now removed, it appears that she did not actually do so. Merely threatening to destroy mail, if the threat is not carried out, does not seem to be a crime under this section. I don't know whether it might be prohibited by some other statute.

Crimes involving mail are normally investigated by the US Postal Inspection Service, not by local police.

Of course, even if the behavior is not a crime, it may still be cause for the postal employee to be fired or otherwise disciplined.

  • It definitely seems weird that she could act in such a way with the threats. Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 5:48
  • Her threats implied she knew I could accept the mail and wanted me to do so under forcible compulsion. Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 5:49
  • What's the best advice on proving to the postmaster what took place did in fact happen? Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 6:00
  • 3
    I have no opinion on that either. Please note that the purpose of this site is general information and education about the law, and it is specifically not to give people advice about what to do in their individual situations. Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 6:05
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    @Username128930 It is very clear you want legal advice. Please contact a lawyer in your area. You might qualify for a free consultation on the situation.
    – Trish
    Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 22:51

This is a real strange behaviour. To the person delivering your mail it makes practically no difference whether you sign or not. If you sign, they have to show you some paper you sign, and take that back to the post office where they know how to keep it safe if they are ever asked about it. And if you refuse to sign, they write into the same paper that you refused to sign, and take the paper and the letter back to the post office. Similar things happen if they can’t find your address, or you are not found at the address.

So there is absolutely no reason to behave like this. It’s absurd. You’d call the local office and tell them what happened and that you want your mail, and chances are 99.9% that they fix the situation.

If she destroyed your Mail then it is destroyed. If she took it back to the post office or home, 99% you’ll get it eventually, and 99% someone will deliver your future mail. It might very well be theft. You could also sue her and the post office for damages.


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