Stolen Mail or Theft of Packages Charges in Michigan
The federal government aggressively pursues investigations into stolen mail and packages. Those charged face tough prosecutors and harsh penalties.
Defense of Stolen Mail and Theft of Packages Charges
Crimes involving the diversion or theft of mail are dealt with harshly by courts and prosecutors. Because of the wide use of security cameras, prosecutors and police have new tools to gather evidence. Defense lawyers must employ aggressive and creative defenses to keep clients out of jail when accused of possessing stolen mail or theft of packages charges in Michigan.
The Mail and Mail Depository Protection Act (MMDPA) was enacted to dramatically increase the potential consequences of a conviction for theft or diversion of mail. Mail means a letter, postal card, package, bag, or anything similar that is addressed to a person. A “person” means an individual or a business. Under this definition, mail includes anything from the United States Postal Service, UPS, FedEx, or anything left or addressed to an intended recipient.
Under the MMDPA, it is illegal to take, hold, conceal, or destroy mail addressed to another person or deprive the person to whom the mail was addressed, including theft of packages in Michigan. The offense is a crime regardless of whether the intended recipient of the mail is living or deceased. This law would apply to mail, packages, boxes, and similar items delivered to a person’s mailbox left on their porch or hung from a doorknob. The law is so broad that even failing to forward misdelivered mail could be penalized.
Sentencing for Stolen Mail or Packages
A first conviction under the MMDPA for possession of stolen mail or theft of packages charges in Michigan is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and up to 2 years on probation. A second offense is a felony with a maximum possible prison sentence of 5 years and up to 5 years of probation. If an offender has prior felony convictions, the possible sentence can be greater. Probation, also known as court supervision, could include requirements such as not committing new crimes, drug and alcohol testing, monthly or weekly reporting to a probation officer, mental health therapy, a psychiatric evaluation, cognitive behavioral therapy, tether, and much more. The judge will order restitution, costs, fees, and fines at sentencing. This conviction is an expensive one!
In addition to the punishments that judges can impose, there are also severe collateral consequences to consider. A theft conviction is regarded as a crime of dishonesty. A crime involving dishonesty can make it difficult to obtain employment, secure promotions, qualify for loans, and get a professional license.
Other Crimes That May Be Charged
The MMDPA provides that a person who violates that law may also be charged with other crimes committed simultaneously. For example, if a package stolen contains a valuable object, the defendant can also be charged with larceny. A violation of identity theft laws could be alleged if the information obtained from a letter was used to establish credit or take out a loan. Two or more people cooperating in any way could be charged with conspiracy. In other words, the single act of taking one item can result in multiple charges.
Avoiding Jail and Prison Time for an MMDPA Violation
Someone charged with violating the MMDPA for taking, holding, concealing, or destroying mail addressed to another person may face a high likelihood of incarceration. Judges and prosecutors frequently take these crimes personally because there is a good chance that they have been the victim of this crime. As more people utilize online shopping and delivery services, the pressure on prosecutors and judges to make examples of defendants will increase. The judge’s goal will be to deter others who may commit this crime by handing out severe punishment.
The best hope of avoiding jail time and an extensive probation period is a good and experienced defense attorney. A highly successful defense lawyer will argue mitigating circumstances to persuade the judge not to order jail or prison time.
Examples of mitigating circumstances include an excellent employment record, a history of being compassionate and generous, success in school, a good family, a positive reputation as a parent and member of the community, a lack of prior criminal history, health problems, and more.
If I haven’t been charged yet, should I hire a lawyer?
It is in your best interest to hire a lawyer even if you haven’t been formally charged but are under investigation for possession of stolen mail. When under investigation for a potential criminal offense, the consequences of statements made, actions taken, or evidence provided can profoundly impact the outcome of your case. A lawyer can guide you through the investigative process, ensuring your rights are protected at all stages. They can advise on how to communicate with law enforcement, ensuring you don’t inadvertently incriminate yourself or provide information that could be used against you later. Furthermore, an attorney can begin to gather evidence, speak with potential witnesses, and establish a defense strategy early on, which may be instrumental in preventing charges from being filed in the first place. Retaining legal counsel early demonstrates that you take the situation seriously and can deter overzealous investigative tactics. Overall, having an attorney by your side provides a vital buffer between you and the investigative authorities, ensuring your rights are upheld and that you’re in the best possible position to defend yourself should charges be brought against you. Most importantly, an experienced precharge investigation and consultation lawyer might be able to help you avoid charges that are inevitable if you are unrepresented.
Michigan Criminal Defense for Theft of Mail and Packages
The best way to avoid a conviction and jail is with the Defense Team at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., Michigan’s premier criminal defense law firm. Our attorneys have decades of experience successfully and aggressively defending clients charged with felony and misdemeanor offenses throughout Michigan. Mail fraud and mail theft crimes are most frequently charged in Oakland County, Macomb County, Wayne County, and Washtenaw County. If you or your loved one is accused of a criminal offense in Michigan, our attorneys will do everything possible to protect and defend you. We have a reputation as one of the top defense firms because we treat every client as our most important, believe every case is defensible, and routinely achieve extraordinary success in court.
Don’t trust your fate to the lowest bidder or risk your future to a court-appointed lawyer overwhelmed with a massive docket of cases.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.