Every year at this time, the United States Postal Service is working round-the-clock to deliver cards and gifts. And sometimes the recipients of packages are not home when the mailman shows up, boxes in tow. So, out of necessity, the package is left at the doorstep. And for someone who is struggling to provide gifts for a family or just an individual whose impulse control is lacking, a package left unguarded can be almost irresistible.

It is very easy to steal a package or envelope from a porch or a mailbox, so much so that you may not realize that doing so is a federal crime. In fact, the United States Postal Inspection Service employs 3,000 inspectors who are tasked with battling mail fraud and theft as well as protecting the mail system of the United States.

Reportedly, the postal police arrests around 10,000 suspects annually, many of whom are charged with stealing mail or are in possession of stolen mail. The United States Code cites the theft of a package, letter or even a postcard handled by the USPS as a crime and is punishable by fines and as much as five years in prison. Similarly, taking receivership of stolen mail is also a punishable federal crime.

If you have been charged with taking USPS mail, it is important to have knowledgeable legal representation who understands how the federal court system works. Being charged with theft at the state level is certainly serious, but federal charges are on a whole other level. For this reason, you should make sure that your attorney has experience handling cases in federal court.