Lawyer for Mailing Injurious Articles Charges

Most people in the United States understand that you cannot mail dangerous and potentially harmful items or materials through the United States Postal Service. In fact, Title 18, U.S. Code 1716 forbids the mailing of hazardous materials.

In this article, you’ll learn about what constitutes a hazardous material as well as the penalties for violating this law.

Call the Zoukis Consulting Group now to schedule a consultation with us on your defense.

What Are “Injurious Articles”?

Determining whether or not something you want to send is harmful or hazardous can be confusing. This is especially true since the law does not explicitly state every forbidden item. Generally speaking, this federal law prohibits mailing any substance or thing that “may, under conditions encountered in the mail, be injurious to life, health, or property.”

Sections of this law make it more explicit. Section A prohibits mailing animals of many sorts, especially poisonous or otherwise hazardous animals. It also outlaws sending explosive materials, flammable items, anything diseased (including germs or scabs), and anything else intended to kill or injure another person.

Section F forbids mailing alcohol or spirits of any kind, and section G prohibits mailing knives and blades. When it comes to these, though, there are some exceptions, such as for Armed Forces and law enforcement officials and knife manufacturers who properly package their products.

Once again, the law is specific about these items but leaves a lot of leeway for the government. Just because the potentially dangerous thing you want to mail is not spelled out in one of these sections does not mean that you’re good to go. Our advice is to speak with your local post office, and if they can’t help, your local postmaster. Make sure you have official permission before mailing. That way, you can avoid any penalties, which we will cover next.

What Happens if You Break This Law?

If you choose to ignore these statutes, you are committing a federal crime, and you may be subject to federal charges. These penalties almost always include fines. Fines vary greatly, from at least $450 up to $75,000. The amount you ship and what materials you choose to send in violation of this law will determine the exact amount of your fine.

Courts most often use fines to punish companies and other organizations who knowingly violate hazardous materials guidelines. They typically commit these violations to save money and cut corners, but it can cost them a great deal more once caught. It can often be difficult to pinpoint exactly who is at fault in these situations, which is why individuals rarely face jail time for corporate misconduct.

Individuals who violate these laws, though, could also face jail time. Once again, the penalty will vary depending on the severity of the crime. If you accidentally mail something hazardous without realizing it’s dangerous and it does not cause any further damage or violations, then you’ll likely face a fine on the lower end.

One of the most common violations of this law is when people mail alcohol, especially bottles of wine. A lot of people simply don’t realize that doing so is actually against the law. Once again, if the United States Postal Service catches your violation, you’d likely face a fine on the low end.

As far as jail time is concerned, those sentences can also vary greatly depending on the severity of the crime. Usually, to be subject to a prison sentence, the violator would need to have acted out of malice, or at least a knowledge that they may cause harm. But feigning ignorance will not always save you. It’s always best to be overly cautious when it comes to obeying the law.

In addition to criminal charges, you can be subject to civil action by injured parties. If no severe illness or injury resulted, you might be liable for up to about $83,400 per violation per day. If the items you mail cause death or critical condition, that figure shoots up to almost $194,700 per violation per day. As you can probably imagine, these figures may quickly add up.  

Bear in mind that these penalties are only for the actual act of mailing hazardous materials. They do not cover any resulting injuries or damages to individuals or property. If someone gets hurt because of something you sent, you can be charged with a serious felony, including assault or worse. In many cases, these would be considered federal crimes with long mandatory sentences.

If you’re facing charges related to Title 18, U.S. Code 1716, it’s wise to seek legal counsel. Even if you think you’re simply facing a fine, it’s better to be safe than sorry. And, of course, ask the post office before you act!

If you’re facing federal charges relating to mailing hazardous materials, call the Zoukis Consulting Group. We’ll go to court with you and defend you from your charges and try to procure the best possible outcome.

Schedule your consultation today.