NRS 171.1257: Arrested by The Postal Inspector

Woman putting envelope in mailbox

Did you know that the United States Postal Inspector has the right to arrest you for crimes that involve the postal service?

Not many people are aware that the postal inspector basically has the same power as a police officer. The Postal inspector is the mail police force.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, a surge of postal crimes occurred as people stayed home, ordering more items online and receiving unexpected monetary packages in the mail.

Across the nation, mailboxes were ruthlessly targeted, resulting in the theft of significant amounts of money allocated to support Covid-stricken individuals, including crucial unemployment benefits. The impact of this deplorable act extends far beyond financial loss, as it deprives countless victims of the assistance meant to help them navigate these challenging times. Sometimes these stories might make the news because of the sheer volume or value of the amount that were stolen.

Online we see “porch pirates” as they are called all the time.

These are people that will steal packages from someone’s porch or patio after they have been delivered and before the owner is able to pick up their package.

Even things like identity theft fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S postal inspector if it involves crimes where the postal service was or is involved.

Believe it or not, some of the crimes that the postal inspector can arrest you for are serious and can involve serious prison sentences.

Since the mail is a federal system some of these crimes are prosecuted in Federal Court instead of the state court system.

When Can the Postal Inspector Arrest You?

NRS 171.1257 establishes specific guidelines for when the postal inspector can arrest someone when it is suspected that a crime has been committed.

The Postal Inspector may arrest a suspect when a warrant is issued for a suspect.

Other ways the Postal Inspector can arrest someone is:

  1. Whenever a public offense is attempted or committed that is related to postal matters and that occurs in the inspector’s presence
  2. When any felony or misdemeanor offense is committed that is related to postal matters, even if it does not occur in the presence of the postal inspector.
  3. When there is reasonable cause to believe an offense has been committed that is related to postal matters and that is either a felony or a misdemeanor
  4. When a charge is made on reasonable suspicion that a felony or gross misdemeanor offense has been committed that relates to postal matters
  5. When a warrant has been issued for a crime related to postal matters and the postal inspector has reasonable belief the person being arrested is the person for whom there is an outstanding warrant.

Postal matters are any criminal activity that is connected to the mail service, including theft of the mail, mail fraud, and the collection of mail.

Criminal Activity Related to the Post Office and Postal Inspector

Believe it or not there are several crimes that involve the U.S Postal service where you can be arrested by the postal inspector.

Some of the most common activity is:

  1. Mail Fraud: This includes fraudulent sweepstakes, lotteries, online auctions, and chain letters
  2. Mail Theft: Mail theft includes stealing mail from a community mailbox or a package from a porch. Any theft of mail of any kind that doesn’t belong to you
  3. Counterfeit Stamps: Counterfeit stamps that are sold at retailers and not form the postal service
  4. Scam emails and texts: If you suspect an email is a scam or a fake email about a package being sent to you
  5. Identity Theft: This is the stolen personal identifying information that has or could lead to access to your financial accounts
  6. Cyber Crime: crimes committed via the internet or aided by computer devices by intruders seeking access and information to exploit or steal
  7. Child Exploitation: Offenses using a minor child for personal or financial gain, including pornography online and through the mail
  8. Suspicious Mail: Mail Bombs, dangerous chemicals, or any substance that may cause harm

These are just some of the crimes where the postal inspector can come to your house and arrest you just like the police would.

What Are the Penalties?

Postal Crimes are prosecuted by the federal government. Under 18 U.S.C. 1341 are punished with:

  • For Mail Fraud
    • Up to 20 years in Federal Prison and/or
    • A fine at the judges discretion up to one million dollars

If the case involves federal disaster relief or the victim is a bank or other financial institution the sentence for mail fraud is:

  • Up to 30 years in prison and /or
  • Up to $1,000,000 in fines

For mail theft:

  • A felony
  • Up to 5 years in federal prison and/or
  • A fine of up to $250,000

A judge might also have the suspect pay restitution to the victims of mail fraud or mail theft.

How to Fight Charges Involving Crimes Involving the Postal Service and Postal Inspector

There are 3 typical defenses against postal crimes or other crimes that involve the post office:

  1. No intent to defraud: A suspect’s state of mind at the time of crime is often difficult to prove since it’s intangible. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the suspect was not acting in good faith and meant to harm the victims. If the prosecution cannot gather enough evidence to prove intent the charges must be dropped.
  2. No use of the mail: 18 U.S.C. 1341 applies only when the defendant used the mail in the course of or in furtherance of the alleged crime. If there is no evidence of this like tracking numbers, mail slips, or testimony from postal service workers the case should be dismissed.
  3. Illegal Police Search: One of the most common defenses in criminal cases has to do with the conduct of law enforcement and not the defendant. If law enforcement conducted an illegal search to obtain evidence, the defense team may file a motion to suppress evidence with the federal court. The judge grants the motion and disregards the evidence that was obtained illegally; the prosecution may not have enough evidence to prosecute the case.

Statute of Limitations

All criminal charges or offenses with the exception of murder have a statute of limitations.

That means that there is a certain period of time that the prosecution has to bring charges and a trial for a criminal offense.

The statute of limitations for mail fraud is five years, which means that the prosecutor has a five-year window to bring charges for the original offense.

If the crime involves a financial institution the statute of limitations becomes ten years from the original offense.

How The Defenders Can Help

The Defenders represent many clients facing federal criminal charges including postal inspector arrest and federal prosecution cases.

Our expert team of defense attorneys has knowledge of the Federal Code and the laws that govern the postal system and the related crimes including mail fraud and mail theft.

The Defenders team understands the process after you have been arrested by the Postal Inspector or other law enforcement agencies.

We will use all of our tools to help get your charges reduced or dismissed if possible.

If you have been charged with a crime involving the postal service and were arrested by the Postal inspector, you need help now.

Making the right decision about who will represent you could make all the difference.

Call The Defenders today for a case review.

We have been defending clients for forty years.

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