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

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From the U.S. Code Online via GPO Access

[www.gpoaccess.gov]

[Laws in effect as of January 3, 2007]

[CITE: 18USC1702]

TITLE 18--CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE

PART I--CRIMES

CHAPTER 83--POSTAL SERVICE

Sec. 1702. Obstruction of correspondence

Whoever takes any letter, postal card, or package out of any post

office or any authorized depository for mail matter, or from any letter

or mail carrier, or which has been in any post office or authorized

depository, or in the custody of any letter or mail carrier, before it

has been delivered to the person to whom it was directed, with design to

obstruct the correspondence, or to pry into the business or secrets of

another, or opens, secretes, embezzles, or destroys the same, shall be

fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 778; Pub. L. 103-322, title XXXIII,

Sec. 330016(1)(I), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)

Historical and Revision Notes

Based on title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed., Sec. 317 (Mar. 4, 1909, ch.

321, Sec. 194, 35 Stat. 1125; Feb. 25, 1925, ch. 318, 43 Stat. 977; Aug.

26, 1935, ch. 693, 49 Stat. 867; Aug. 7, 1939, ch. 557, 53 Stat. 1256).

Section 317 of said title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed., was incorporated in

this and section 1708 of this title.

Minor changes were made in phraseology.

Amendments

1994--Pub. L. 103-322 substituted ``fined under this title'' for

``fined not more than $2,000''.

From the U.S. Code Online via GPO Access

[www.gpoaccess.gov]

[Laws in effect as of January 3, 2007]

[CITE: 18USC1703]

TITLE 18--CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE

PART I--CRIMES

CHAPTER 83--POSTAL SERVICE

Sec. 1703. Delay or destruction of mail or newspapers

(a) 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.

(b) Whoever, being a Postal Service officer or employee, improperly

detains, delays, or destroys any newspaper, or permits any other person

to detain, delay, or destroy the same, or opens, or permits any other

person to open, any mail or package of newspapers not directed to the

office where he is employed; or

Whoever, without authority, opens, or destroys any mail or package

of newspapers not directed to him, shall be fined under this title or

imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 778; May 24, 1949, ch. 139, Sec. 37,

63 Stat. 95; Pub. L. 91-375, Sec. 6(j)(16), Aug. 12, 1970, 84 Stat. 778;

Pub. L. 103-322, title XXXIII, Sec. 330016(1)(B), (G), Sept. 13, 1994,

108 Stat. 2146, 2147.)

Historical and Revision Notes

1948 Act

Based on title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed., Secs. 318, 319 (Mar. 4, 1909,

ch. 321, Secs. 195, 196, 35 Stat. 1125, 1126).

Section consolidated sections 318 and 319 of said title 18, U.S.C.,

1940 ed. The embezzlement and theft provisions of each were incorporated

in sections 1709 and 1710 of this title.

Minor changes were made in phraseology.

1949 Act

This section [section 37] corrects typographical errors in section

1703 of title 18, U.S.C.

Amendments

1994--Pub. L. 103-322 substituted ``fined under this title'' for

``fined not more than $500'' in subsec. (a) and ``fined under this

title'' for ``fined not more than $100'' in last par.

1970--Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 91-375, Sec. 6(j)(16)(A), amended subsec.

(a) generally, which prior to amendment read as follows: ``Whoever,

being a postmaster or Postal Service employee, unlawfully detains,

delays, or opens any letter, postal card, package, bag, or mail

intrusted 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 secretes, or destroys any such

letter, postal card, package, bag, or mail, shall be fined not more than

$500 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.''

Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 91-375, Sec. 6(j)(16)(B), substituted ``Postal

Service officer or employee'' for ``postmaster or Postal Service

employee''.

1949--Subsec. (a). Act May 24, 1949, Sec. 37(a), substituted

``secretes'' for ``secrets''.

Subsec. (b). Act May 24, 1949, Sec. 37(b), substituted

``newspapers'' for ``newspaper''.

Effective Date of 1970 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 91-375 effective within 1 year after Aug. 12,

1970, on date established therefor by Board of Governors of United

States Postal Service and published by it in Federal Register, see

section 15(a) of Pub. L. 91-375, set out as an Effective Date note

preceding section 101 of Title 39, Postal Service.
It is a violation of US Postal Regulations to do so. It is described as; "Intercepting mail belonging to another."