Jul 19, 2023

Can police officers read your mail?


You’re not home all day long. You have work and plenty of other commitments.

If the police are investigating you, can they go to your house and read through your mail? After all, it gets dropped off long before you get home, so you could not stop them and may not even know.

Fortunately, you do have some protections under the Fourth Amendment. Officers cannot, in most cases, open up your mail and read it. You may have heard that it is a crime to open someone else’s mail, and this applies to the police as well.

However, they can open your mail if they have a warrant. This works the same way that a typical home search works. You do not have to let the police in without a warrant, but they can come in if they get one first. With the paperwork in place, they can read your mail.

They can also read anything that you throw away. Courts have long supported the notion that trash falls outside of your reasonable expectation of privacy. If you toss letters in the mail, opened or otherwise, they are fair game.

Finally, they can read the outside of all of your letters, even if they are in the mailbox. They just cannot open them. So they can potentially take your mail out, learn whom it is addressed to, and find out who it came from, all without your permission. Do you think that the police violated your rights when reading your mail? If so, it is very important to discuss this with a criminal defense attorney to know how this could impact your case.