consequences for stealing mail

How Bad Is Stealing Mail?

consequences for stealing mail

Even in today’s digital world, there is still a high demand for physical shipping. After all, how else would people be able to get something that they ordered online? This means that mail is still a pretty big deal, even if it may not seem like.

Something that at first seems like no big deal, but actually becomes pretty bad when looking deeper, is stealing someone else’s mail. At first, people might think it’s no big deal, since most of the mail they get is junk mail. However, that is not the case. A lot of important things are sent in envelopes from one person to another, which is why it is illegal to steal and/or open someone else’s mail.

What Gets Shipped?

A better question would be what doesn’t get shipped in today’s world? In the age of the internet and online retailers such as Amazon, people can buy just about whatever they want online. This means that whatever they purchased needs to be shipped as well. This leads to just about anything you can imagine being shipped by mail.

However, mail goes beyond material possessions. Think about all of the birthday and holiday cards that get shipped. Many of those often contain money or gift cards in them.

Another important thing that is shipped in the mail is people’s identities. Sensitive papers that can contain important information about a person, such as medical, legal, or financial documents. These bits of paper can contain social security numbers, and other private bits of information.

All of this is stuff that a person doesn’t want falling into the wrong hands, which is why it is a crime to steal someone’s mail at both the state and federal level.

What Is Considered Mail Theft?

Due to what can be found in mail, stealing it is a very serious offense. Add on to that the fact that the USPS is a federal agency, and the consequences become even more severe. Here in the state of California, the crime and its consequences are considered to be more closely related to identity theft than to actual theft. This isn’t to say that stealing a package from amazon is not as bad as stealing a letter from a bank. Both crimes will land a person in very serious trouble.

Stealing mail is defined as taking someone else’s mail from a mailbox, mail receptacle, post office, or mail carrier. It is also illegal to obtain mail by lying to or deceiving someone. Opening someone else’s mail and taking its contents without the addressed person’s consent is also illegal. Destroying stolen mail in an attempt to hide is illegal as well. Lastly, buying or receiving mail that a person knows to be stolen is illegal.

Basically, if a person’s name is not on the address, than they shouldn’t be taking or opening the mail without permission from the person who the letter or package is addressed to.

Penalties for Stealing Mail

Stealing someone else’s mail is a crime under California Penal Code 530.5 and 18 United States Code 1708.

Here in California, the theft of mail is considered a misdemeanor offense. This means that it can earn a person:

  • Up to 1 year in county jail.
  • A fine no larger than $1,000.
  • Some combination of the above fine and jail time.

At the federal level, the consequences of stealing someone else’s mail are much more severe. If a person is charged with federal mail theft, they could face:

  • Up to 5 years in federal prison.
  • Fines up to $250,000.
  • Some combination of the above fine and prison time.

This is all just for the offense of stealing the mail. A person can also potentially be charged with breaking and entering or even identity theft. Both of these charges would have their penalties added onto those of the mail theft.

Stealing Mail Is a Big Deal

All in all, stealing mail is not a crime that is taken lightly. It may seem like stealing mail is no big deal, but that is not the case. If a person is caught stealing mail from anywhere, they will face criminal charges. Here in California, that means at both the state and federal level. This means that those penalties can add up quick. Basically, a person should never take someone else’s mail or packages. It is stealing, and will land a person behind bars.

types of crime charges

The 3 Different Levels of Crimes

types of crime charges

When it comes to breaking the law, most people know they shouldn’t do that because if they do, they will face consequences. However, while people may understand this concept pretty easily, what they may not realize is that there are varying levels when it comes to breaking the law. Different crimes earn different consequences. This is why people who speed receive different penalties than people who commit murder.

There are three different types of crimes, and they are:

  • Infractions – Infractions are the low level offenses. These include most traffic violations and other smaller offenses such as jaywalking. These crimes are only punishable by small fines. A person will not receive jail time for an infraction.
  • Misdemeanors – The middle level crimes are misdemeanors, and in the state of California, most crimes fall into this category. Some common misdemeanor crimes include petty theft, shoplifting, drunk in public, and drug possession. Misdemeanors are punishable by anywhere from 6 months to a year in jail, and/or a fine of no more than $1,000.
  • Felonies – Felony crimes are the worst of the worst. Some examples of felonies include rape, murder, and vehicular manslaughter. Since these are some of these worst crimes possible, they also receive the harshest penalties. A person accused of a felony faces more than a year in prison, and/or a fine no larger than $10,000.

Breaking the law is never a good idea, no matter what kind of penalties a person may face. Nobody wants to have to pay fines, or face possible incarceration. That is why most people choose to follow laws rather than break them.

school bus laws california

Stopping for School Buses

school bus laws california

School is back in session once again and for students, that means that the fun of summer is over. For many adults, we assume nothing changes for us when the new school year starts, however that isn’t exactly the case. With the start of school comes additional traffic around campuses, and school buses make a reappearance.

Luckily for most drivers, school buses only operate within certain time frames. This means that they are not around for most of the day. However, the times they are in operation tend to coincide with rush hour traffic to and from work. Having to stop for a school bus when late to work, or after an extra tiring day at the office, can be frustrating.

Some people assume that if they see a school bus stopped, but it is on the opposite side of the street, that they can simply ignore it and keep on their way. Other people will keep going regardless of the stopped bus and the line of cars behind or in front of it. In both instances, this is against the law.

In the state of California, all drivers are required to stop for a school bus that is displaying flashing red lights and a stop sign. Not only will ignoring a school buses stop signals earn a driver a costly ticket, it could harm a child. School buses are used to transport kids to and from school. When they stop along the road, it is either to pick kids up or let them off. This means that there are kids near an active roadway, and extreme caution should be used.

The only time a driver is allowed to ignore a stopped school bus is when it is on the opposite side of a divided roadway. This means that there is either a median or barrier separating the two different directions of traffic. Any other time a driver comes across a school bus with flashing red lights and a stop sign out, they need to stop, regardless of what side of the road they are on. Stopping will only take a moment, and will help keep everyone safe.

earthquake awareness

Be Prepared for October 18

earthquake awareness

California is pretty well known for having plenty of wildfires, and 2018 has been no exception. This year’s fire season has been one of the worst in state in history, but it was at least expected. The one plus side to wildfires, is that they follow a bit of a forecast. Here in California, wildfires become much more common during the warm months of summer and fall, making them a slightly predictable emergency.

Earthquakes, on the other hand, are just about as unpredictable as emergencies come. They can happen whenever and wherever in California, making them much scarier. Sometimes the ground will rumble, and it will be over in a second, before anyone can even register that an earthquake took place. Other ties however, things can be much worse.

Large scale earthquakes can strike without warning and level entire city blocks. This is a fact that is very common in our state’s history. Cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles have both dealt with the harsh reality of major earthquakes and seen the kind of damage that they are capable of.

Since earthquakes are a part of normal life here in California, it is important for all residents to be prepared for the worst. One good opportunity to practice would be to participate in the Great Shakeout which takes place on October 18th. The Great Shakeout is a unified way for people who live or work in earthquake prone areas to plan, practice, and prepare for an inevitable earthquake.

You may not be able to predict when an earthquake will strike and rattle your life, but you can prepare for one. Every Californian should have an emergency kit and a plan in place for what to do when an earthquake does occur. By being prepared, a person could save their life, or the life of others around them.

insurance laws in california

Should You Have Insurance?

insurance laws in california

When you grow up, you start to realize all the things you weren’t taught about in school. For example insurance. All insurance, auto, house, and life, are all big giant mysteries. Don’t worry about feeling like you’re the only one who doesn’t understand how it works, a lot of people don’t. We don’t learn about it in school, so why is it even important?

Insurance provides us the means to survive an accident. Whether that’s a car accident, natural disaster, or death, insurance is there to help. The best way of explaining the general idea of insurance, is by thinking back to grade school. In school you more than likely had a best friend that you would do anything for and they would always have your back. Insurance is like your best friend who will always have your back, except with insurance you have to pay them.

If you’ve ever experienced a death in the family, you’ll understand the importance of life insurance. Life insurance is basically putting a value on someone’s life. Say there’s a married couple and the husband is the “bread winner” of the family, while the wife stays home and takes care of the kids. One day, the husband dies. The widow would be at a loss if it weren’t for her husband’s life insurance policy. His life insurance policy helps cover the funeral costs and other expenses. Some life insurance policies are big enough where the widow wouldn’t have to worry about working.

Car insurance is mandatory unless you’re sitting on a pile of gold. In California it’s not illegal to live without it. Under California law, according to Department of Motorized Vehicles, you must have financial means to cover any costs related to accidents. California law requires proof of your ability to pay or cover the costs. This essentially means that you don’t need insurance but you also have to be able to pay up to $30,000 in possible damages. Unless you have an extra $30,000 laying around, you’re probably going to need car insurance.

House/Renters insurance is a practical must if you’re not living at home anymore. It’s especially necessary when you live in a place that is earthquake prone. While the state of California doesn’t require homeowners insurance, or renters insurance, you’re probably still required to have it by someone. Your bank who you financed your home may require it. Your landlord may require it. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to have either. You’ll be surprised at what home/renters insurance could include.

If you feel overwhelmed by it all, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Just remember that whenever you don’t understand an insurance policy, ask the insurance provider for more information. Understanding what is covered, who is covered, and how they’re covered can make being an adult much easier.

how to keep your home safe

How to Keep Your Home Safe

how to keep your home safe

In an article written by Matthew Wilson for Property Guard Master, Wilson cites that in the United States alone there is a home intrusion every thirteen seconds. Furthermore, there are an astounding 2.5 million home burglaries reported each year. Of those 2.5 million home burglaries, 60% of them happen between the hours of 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM. Despite these staggering numbers, only 13% of burglaries end in an arrest.

Did you know that 87% of burglaries are considered preventable? So how do you help prevent such home invasions? We’ve got some suggestions. We know it can be tempting to post about an upcoming vacation, but don’t. It can be hard to know exactly who is viewing your posts and you don’t want the wrong person finding out that your house is going to be empty for a prolonged period of time.

It is also a good idea to have a security system installed in your home. Only 17% of houses in the United States have a security system even though this could be a big deterrent for an intruder. If you can’t afford a security system, be sure every door is equipped with a deadbolt lock and that you do not hide any spare keys outside of your home.

If you do go on vacation, or have a crazy work schedule, it is important to make it seem as though your home is being lived in. If you’re heading out on vacation, ask a trusted neighbor to pick up your newspaper and mail each day so that it does not pile up on your porch or in your mailbox. You should also consider leaving a light on in a few rooms in your home so when night time comes around it appears as though someone is there. It’s also smart to keep your bushes and shrubs trimmed so it looks like someone is regularly doing yard maintenance.

As hard as it may be, it’s important to always be one step ahead of a possible intruder. By following these tips above and being aware of what is going on in and around your neighborhood you can help prevent an intrusion.

car seat laws california

Did You Hear about This Change to Kids Car Seats?

car seat laws california

Any experienced parent will tell you that kids need different kinds of car seats at different ages. As the child grows, they need different styles of car seats until they are finally big enough to sit in the seat without any additional device. For a long time, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that children should remain in rear-facing car seats until they are 2 years old. However, that has now changed.

Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics changed their recommendation and eliminated the age limit. Now they say that a child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until they weigh over 40 pounds. The lead author of the updated rule said: “It’s best to keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. This is still the safest way for children to ride.”

This change breaks a long held rule, largely due to the fact that manufactures of car seats are now making rear-facing seats that can support children up to 40 pounds. Since this is the best way for children to travel, the Academy changed the long standing rule.

According to the academy, using the right kinds of car seat for a child can reduce the risk of serious injury or death by 70%. That is not a number that should be ignored by parents. Furthermore, the Academy goes on to list when kids should be moved from one style of car seat to the next.

  • Rear-facing seat – Up to 40 pounds.
  • Safety seat with harnesses – Up to 65 pounds.
  • Belt positioning booster seat – Until the child is 4 feet 9 inches tall.

Parents should follow these guidelines, as well as the recommendations in the car seat’s safety manual to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their child while driving.

preventing fires

No Butts about It

preventing fires

Every Californian knows that wildfires in the state are a pretty big deal. This is only reinforced by the fact that 2018 has been one of the worst years for wildfires in the state to date. This year, the Mendocino Complex Fire became the largest wildfire to ever burn across the state. The blaze scorched 459,123 acres, and is estimated to have burned hundreds of structures, uprooting the lives of many people.

This is the perfect reminder that we all need to do our part in preventing blazes like this from even starting. One such way to do that is by properly disposing of cigarettes finished. Throwing cigarette butts onto the ground or out of a car window is a fairly common practice. After all, just about everyone has seen cigarette butts lying discarded on the ground.

The problem with this, besides the fact that it is littering, is that these butts are often still lit when discarded. If one were to fall in to some paper or dry brush, they could easily spark a blaze. If you think this is too farfetched, think again. Dozens of fires are started around the world annually by discarded cigarette butts. It is a real problem that people need to be made aware of.

Properly disposing of used cigarettes can greatly reduce the risk of them starting a fire. Finished cigarette butts should be extinguished and placed in ashtrays. This way, they cannot fall into any sort of kindling and spark the next big blaze in California.

Wildfires are a big deal in this state, and every resident needs to do their part to keep California from burning up.

zero money down bail in san bernardino

Rescuing Someone from Jail Is Easy

zero money down bail in san bernardino

Learning that a close friend has been arrested can make it feel like the world is ending, but it isn’t. Your friend is not stuck in jail. You can help get him or her out by posting bail. The thought of this is intimidating to most people, because they do not know how bail works. Luckily, bail is a lot easier than people realize.

Despite what many people think, bailing someone out of jail can be easy, if you have the right team of people helping you. You want not only a team of friends and family members behind you, but a caring and professional bail agent as well. When the right people have your back, getting a friend out of jail is a piece of cake.

You can find the right bail agent to help you by contacting Penny Bail Bonds in San Bernardino. Our professional bail agents have years of training and experience behind them. They know exactly what they are doing. Our agents can answer any questions you might have, and guide you through bailing someone out of jail.

If you have friend and/or family members who are willing to help post bail, they can help by co-signing for the bail bond. If one of the co-signers meets one of the following requirements, then you all can qualify for a 20% discount of the price of the bail bond.

To get the discount, one of the co-signers needs to:

  • Be a member of the military.
  • Be a member of AARP.
  • Be a union member.
  • Be a homeowner.
  • Have a private attorney.

That’s all it takes to get a discount.

We make things even easier by allowing clients with approved credit to get a bail bond at 0% down. This gives our clients a chance to begin saving up for their first payment while still getting their loved one out of jail quickly.

When a client qualifies for 0% down, they basically get the first month of their payment plan free. Their loved one still gets out of jail that day, but they do not have to make a payment on the bail bond until a month later. This helps give our clients some time to save up some money, and even allows the person who was bailed out to help.

Let Penny Bail Bonds in San Bernardino show you how easy it is to bail a friend out of jail. With our help, you and your friend will be able to put this whole situation behind you in no time at all. In fact, we can have some clients out of jail in as little as 2 hours in some California counties. To get started with rescuing your friend, just talk to one of our bail agents.


Our agents can be reached at any time by calling 866-736-6977 or clicking Chat With Us now.


What Can Be Done about Squatters in California?

squatter laws in california

It is no secret that the state of California has a bit of a problem when it comes to homelessness. In fact, California had an estimated 134,000 homeless individuals in the year of 2017. This is almost half of the homeless population in the entire United States. Needless to say, this is a big problem, and it is only causing more problems.

One such problem is that of squatters, which are people who unlawfully occupy uninhabited property or land. These people do not have the right to live on that property because it belongs to someone else, and yet they live their regardless of the fact. This can cause problems for the property owner, which can get worse the longer the squatters remain on the property.

What is Considered Criminal Trespassing?

Here in California, and the rest of the country, a person is not able to walk on privately owned land or building unless they have permission to do so. Entering into someone else’s property without permission is considered trespassing. California Penal Code 602 makes this a misdemeanor activity. This means that trespassing can earn a person one of the following:

  • A fine no larger than $1,000.
  • Up to 6 months in jail.
  • Some combination of fine and jail.

Trespassing is not something that is taken lightly here in California. While one would think dealing with squatters would be plain and simple, that is not the case.

Do Squatters Have Rights?

California has what is known as squatter’s rights. This is a term that terrifies and concerns many property owners. Squatters in California can earn rights through what is referred to as adverse possession. This is a legal term that can allow a trespasser to eventually gain control of someone else’s property, which is bad for the property’s owner.

Adverse possession basically states that if a squatter has been living on a piece of property long enough, and has made noticeable improvements on the land while paying the land’s property tax, then he or she has a reasonable claim for ownership of the land in question. For this to occur, the property owner has to be pretty unaware of what is going on with the property for a very long time.

For adverse possession to take effect, the squatter has to live on the land continuously for 5 years, all the will using the land and making improvements on it. Once that is done, the squatter will have the right to claim the property as their own in court.

The government allows adverse possession because it takes land that was unused, and develops it, making it useable, and taxable. The 5 year requirement is to give the property owner time to notice the problem and try to deal with it.

Dealing with Squatters

Unfortunately for property owners, dealing with squatters is not as simple as one would hope, even with California’s laws against trespassing. As far as the state law is concerned, a person who does not properly police and control their property, deserves to lose said property. This is why it is extremely important for a property owner to regularly inspect any property that they own, but do not currently use. They also need to make sure that are always paying their property taxes. Doing so will help them ensure that squatters do not reside there long enough to earn squatter’s rights, or achieve adverse possession.

Unfortunately, even after doing all of this, it can still be a lengthy legal process to remove squatters from a property, especially if they know about squatter’s rights. Skilled squatters are known to target abandoned properties and can often come up with official looking documents when confronted by police or other law officials. This can make them difficult to remove despite the fact that they are trespassing, however it is not impossible. A property owner just needs to be on top of the problem.

Do you know anyone who has issue with squatters? Can you remove squatters by force?