Mailboxes are receptacles designed for the delivery of personal or business mail and are considered government property (as opposed to personal property). Other than the intended mail recipient, the only other individual or entity that is permitted to access federally approved mailboxes are employees of the United States Postal Service. Intentionally vandalizing or causing damage to a USPS mailbox is a federal offense and can lead to financial penalties, jail time and hours of community service.
According to the United States Postal Service, a single act of intentionally vandalizing a USPS approved mail box is punishable by fines of up to $250,000 in federal fines. Also, because most cities, counties and states have their own laws in place regarding vandalism to public and private property, additional fines may be imposed based upon the laws of the area in which the vandalism to the mailbox occurred. In addition, the defendant, if found guilty, may be ordered to reimburse the individual or business for the cost of the mailbox of which they destroyed as well as any additional property damage that may have been caused as part of the vandalism.
Under federal law, anyone convicted of vandalism of a federally approved public or private mailbox may be sentenced up to three years for each act of vandalism. In addition, much like the civil penalties imposed, cities, counties and states have laws in place against the destruction or vandalism of mailboxes, which may carry additional criminal penalties. Depending on the amount of the damage done as a result of the vandalism, perpetrators may be charged with additional misdemeanor or felony charges ranging from criminal mischief to felony destruction of private property, which can carry additional sentencing terms of up to and over one year in jail.
In addition to civil and criminal penalties, tampering with or vandalizing federal mailboxes may result in required hours of community service. Those found guilty may be sentenced to duties such as picking up litter on the side of the road, working in community-based service projects or volunteering in local hospitals. The length of community service hours required will vary based upon city, state and county laws in the community in which the vandalism occurred and can range from several days to several months of unpaid labor, and is often ordered to help fulfill the requirements of probation or parole.