General Question

DylanMueller's avatar

Can the police open an envelope from the USPS?

Asked by DylanMueller (205 points ) May 31st, 2012

I’ve just signed for an envelope delivered “Extremely Urgent” to a co-worker. I’ve just been notified there are drugs in this envelope. Can the police open the envelope with that being the probable cause? I’m in NJ btw.

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82 Answers

bolwerk's avatar

They most likely use drug-sniffing dogs to establish probable cause, which then gets them a warrant to open it.

Also, I doubt it matters what state you’re in. Mail is by and large a matter of federal law.

bkcunningham's avatar

Are you asking if you telling the police you were notified there were drugs in the envelope is enough evidence for them to open the envelope?

6rant6's avatar

You on the Google, “notify me when my co-worker’s mail has drugs in it” alert system?

If not, how did you find out? When you say, “I was notified,” I get this creepy sensation on the back of my neck.

DylanMueller's avatar

I was told not to open a package, my co-worker arrived to work and answered a phone call from my manager. My manager then told her there is suboxone in the envelope and to not let me find out.

bkcunningham's avatar

I honestly can’t say a definite yes or no to what the police would do in that case, @DylanMueller. I’d imagine they would investigate if you told them what was going on. Do you want them to open the package? Do you think she got the drug without a prescription or something and is abusing it?

DylanMueller's avatar

She is not prescribed this drug, she is getting it illegally. It is also a federal crime to mail prescription drugs not prescribed to you across state lines.

6rant6's avatar

So if your neighbor told another neighbor there was something in your mail that was prohibited, and that third person told the police, would you think they had enough evidence to open your mail?

Active verbs would help. Who told you not to open it? __why would you need to to be told not to open someone else’s mail while we’re at it?__ Your manager told who what? Are they your drugs?

bkcunningham's avatar

I think what you’ve told us would be enough probable cause for them to open the envelope. Either that, or they would talk to her and get her to explain what was going on and open the envelope for them. I wouldn’t want to be involved in signing for illegal drugs.

bkcunningham's avatar

Do you know why she is taking the suboxone? Is it to help her stop abusing opioids? Is she taking the drug to help herself or is it like methadone and it can be abused itself?

SpatzieLover's avatar

@bkcunningham People often snort this drug.

@DylanMueller How were you informed? Verbally or via email?
Did your co-worker tell you not to open this? Can you pretend you didn’t hear this?

If it were me, and I thought I just signed for someone’s drugs, I’d open the envelope I signed for. Then deal with it from there.

6rant6's avatar

“She is not prescribed this drug, she is getting it illegally.”

How you know this is relevant.

CWOTUS's avatar

Generally police won’t interfere with US Mail prior to its delivery. If there’s suspicion about the legality of contents of US Mail en route, including suspicion about the activities of Letter Carriers and mail contractors themselves, then Postal Inspectors will check it and take appropriate enforcement action.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Another thought @DylanMueller, when I had to help the FBI with something on a property, they asked that I photograph all mail. Could you take a photo of the package at work?

XOIIO's avatar

I tink they can, usually all it takes is a sharp key or box cutter if you want it to be clean.

dabbler's avatar

In this incarceration-crazed country, if you actually want to help the person receiving drugs in the post then calling the police is NOT what to do. Talk to them, recommend rehab, stage an intervention, etc.
If you want to ruin your co-worker’s life then call the police.

Why did you sign for it? Is that common in your office?
Is it also common in your office to open each other’s mail?

laurenkem's avatar

Admittedly, I know nothing about suboxone (?), but if you simply sign for a package that wasn’t addressed to you, I don’t believe you’re liable. Can the police get involved? Sure, if they know that your co-worker was having drugs illegally shipped to him/her. But as far as I can see, this is in no way your fault and you have no culpability in the crime by simply signing for the package. That being said, if you knew what this individual was doing and “aided and abetted” him/her, that may be a different story. But an unwitting bystander? I doubt you have any liability here. checking office mate’s mail to make sure no drugs included

laurenkem's avatar

BTW, this brings up another question for me. Is buying drugs on the internet illegal, despite all the websites that invite you to do just that? Must you only have a prescription for the “legal” sites, as opposed to “illegal” sites? How exactly does this work? I admit, I’m a bit naive when it comes to this, but I’ve never been able to understand how someone can “illegally” sell drugs on a website without it being shut down.

WestRiverrat's avatar

It would probably take a Postal Inspector to open suspect mail. Local police would not be involved at all because US mail is a Federal jurisdiction. Which means your boss and coworker are looking at beaucoup Federal time if they are using mail to ship illegal drugs.

digitalimpression's avatar

I’m pretty sure anyone could open it. It’s a paper envelope right? How hard could it be?

jca's avatar

If you’re at work and part of your job is to sign for incoming mail, you cannot be held legally responsible for signing for someone’s illegal shipment. You were doing your job.

Can you please post an update, @DylanMueller, as to what the outcome was?

Thanks.

JCA
The Update Lady

DylanMueller's avatar

Everyone, thank you for your advice in this subject. On Thursday I contacted the Postal Inspector, to which then I was told it was after hours and because this wasn’t deemed an “emergency”, I was transferred to The National Law Enforcement Commission (Apparently this commission handles all of the Postal Inspector’s calls after business hours.) I explained the situation a little bit more in depth and was told I’d be receiving a call within 15 minutes as of to what I should do. 15 minutes later I received this call, and it was a Federal Agent. He informed me that because this letter/package was addressed to the place of business and no one in particular I could legally open the envelope without fear of prosecution or any types of laws being broken. Upon opening this envelope, I found 10, 8mg packages of the drug Suboxone. I took a picture of the evidence and sent it to my superior, to which then I was told to call back the Federal Agent and inform him for his report how much of the drug was present. I then mailed it to him for inspection and he will decide if charges will be pressed against my manager.

@dabbler , I have no intention of helping someone who has stolen sales from myself, my co-worker, and past co-workers. Which she then proceeded to steal money from the company, and physical property. I do not care about someone getting “help”, when you commit a crime you have to pay the consequences, not throw a pity party and ask for rehab treatment.

dabbler's avatar

Hmm, sorry I don’t see anything in your posts indicating anything was stolen, in particular from you or your company. If that’s the case then it’s a different matter entirely.

buster's avatar

They are not supposed to open sealed mail without a warrant but the police do whatever they want as far as searches go unless they are being closely monitored and scrutinized. The police have no problem lying. They will say and write in their police report they received information about drugs in a package you possess and when they confronted you about it you handed them a package already open containing drugs or you told them go ahead and open it even if you tell them no way officer you need a warrant to see inside that. Unless you have it on video or a whole bunch of credible witnesses that say otherwise the police report and their testimony which is nothing but an account for court that is generally accepted as 100% truth will make it appear any search they did was legal when in reality it was illegal. Can the police open an envelope from the USPS? YES! Is it legal? Probably not. If they find drugs and decide to press charges on someone you can bet on it they will make their police report and testimony in court show that they obtained the right the search whatever they searched legally whether they legally or illegally searched it or not.

bolwerk's avatar

@buster is right. Actually, in a situation like this, it’s good to speak to a lawyer first. Preferably don’t ever talk to the police. Even now, it might be best to speak to a lawyer.

jca's avatar

If the OP would speak to a lawyer, who would pay for that lawyer? Lawyers don’t work for free.

bolwerk's avatar

In drug cases, a whiff of guilt is enough to get you put away for a long time. If you have to pay for your own lawyer in a case like this, do it. It’s better than prison.

jca's avatar

@bolwerk: What did the OP do that would deserve prison?

bolwerk's avatar

@jca: nothing, according to him. Think the police are going to care? If they suspect him, his life can still be ruined no matter what a white little snowflake he is. And if he’s a visible minority, he probably should be even more cautious.

jca's avatar

@bolwerk: I don’t understand. “Think the police are going to care?” “His life can still be ruined.” The police are going to ruin his life because he did his job and signed for mail? The police don’t put people in jail, judges and juries put people in jail. Please clarify.

bolwerk's avatar

@jca: I don’t see what you don’t understand. If they want to get him, they will. He’s already at risk. He has publicly admitted to handling drugs that he intercepted in the mail. Depending on who he is and how piggish his local cops are, it could be anywhere from a remote possibility to a strong likelihood that even a simple misstatement could land him in hot water. It always makes sense to talk to a lawyer, but especially when you’re an innocent third party and even moreso when drugs are involved.

jca's avatar

@bolwerk: He didn’t know there were drugs in the envelope when he signed for it.

Perhaps we’ll have to agree to disagree.

laurenkem's avatar

@DylanMueller, I don’t recall you mentioning anything in your original post that referred to any kind of theft by this manager. Please clarify.

And, for myself personally, if part of my job is to sign for the mail and then hand it to the person it was addressed to, I would do simply that. It wouldn’t be any business of mine that was in that envelope. However, I think you indicated that it was simply addressed to the business with no name, and in that case, yeah, you had to open it.

At that point, I think you had no choice but to ask for help, because you had unwittingly become part of someone else’s illegal activity. I mean, really, what were you supposed to do at that point? Stride around the office yelling, “Hey, who ordered the Suboxone? Anybody? Your package is here!”

bolwerk's avatar

@jca: that is irrelevant. What matters is that he reported them, his fingerprints are on it, he spoke about the matter to the police, etc., etc.. What matters is he’s involved now. Whatever he says his mindset was, the police can easily mishear or fabricate a statement he made that suggests his mindset was something else. A lawyer protects against problems like this, even if they’re remote.

And, I’m not saying he is highly likely to get in trouble. I’m saying he should have covered his back. Maybe he still should. Really, would you spend $300 now to avoid what might be a 1 in 20 chance of being put in prison and maybe a 10% chance of just having your life be made miserable and complicated for months? That’s what getting a lawyer hedges against.

jca's avatar

@bolwerk: Aaah, I see. Conspiracy. The cops are out to ruin people’s lives!!

bolwerk's avatar

@jca: Just where the hell did I mention a conspiracy or anything resembling a conspiracy? Have you ever read up on police procedure at all?

Anyway, sure, some cops are out to ruin people’s lives. Just like some secretaries are out to ruin people’s lives. But all that is besides the point. The OP is handling a controlled substance. No matter what the motivation of an individual police officer is, if they suspect something for any reason the OP could be in deep shit. It could be an overzealous thug pig – there are plenty of those – but it could just be one who is genuinely well-meaning and just is sure that @DylanMueller (I hope that’s an alias!) is peddling controlled substances.

Anyway, I don’t care if you’re talking about police or the CIA or the SEC or whatever. You have to be woefully naive to think talking to law enforcement about anything substantive without a lawyer is a good idea no matter how much of an innocent little snowflake you are. Lawyers are sharks, but at least they’re obligated to be on your side if you’re paying them to be.

JLeslie's avatar

I am going to send this Q to our local fluther cop john65pennington and our resident postal worker astrochuck.

In the meantime, I would have thought this comes under federal jurisdiction, which is what seems to be true after reading the OP’s post about who the National Law Enforcement. I don’t think his finger prints are a big deal @bolwerk, the OP is the person who receives the mail in the office, his figerprints are on all mail coming in.

Seems the coworker who passed along the information of what is in the package set the OP to be “involved.” Why didn’t that person report it to the authorities?

I also don’t see where the OP said anyone was stealing sales or money until that one post in the middle as some sort of justification to get the manager in “trouble” by reporting the package to the authorities.

I really don’t think the OP has to worry about anything, it is up to the federal law enforcemnt to decide what to do. They may do nothing now and use the i formation within an ongoing investigation. They may go after just the people sending the drugs, they may go after the manager, hard to know.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@JLeslie I think it was in one of his previous questions that the OP mentioned having issues with his manager and/or coworkers.

bolwerk's avatar

@JLeslie: it’s a good chance he doesn’t have anything to worry about, but it’s a situation analogous to insurance. Spending a few hundred $ on a lawyer hedges against the risk of paying out way more later if you do come under the hammer.

And, what @WestRiverrat said, but honestly the OP’s whole explanation has seemed a bit muddled to me all along. But let’s put it this way: he’s not sure what to do about drugs he received in the mail and he’s asking us. If you feel that kind of uncertainty when it comes to being an innocent third party to a felonious transaction, talk to an attorney. This is like asking Fluther about your possibly gangrenous wound when you should be in the doctor’s office.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@DylanMueller It sounds to me like you handle the entire thing well. Update us if the Feds call you back for any more information on the situation.

Sounds to me like your boss lady will be in hot water soon.

JLeslie's avatar

What about the messanger, the other employee who told the OP what was in there? She knew about the drugs and did nothing. Does she have any legal responsibility or culpability?

DylanMueller's avatar

@buster The police actually have no jurisdiction in this matter. Because the package went across state lines it’s no a federal case. Hence, me getting authorization from a federal agent.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I am so confused.

1) How did you end up signing for a package for your co-worker? I noticed some comments along the lines that that handling mail is in your job description, but I don’t see that in your details.

2) WHO informed you there were drugs in the envelope??

Dutchess_III's avatar

This question is hinky, all the way around.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@JLeslie That’s for the Feds to figure out. Was the co-worker aiding boss lady? Was co-worker signing for these packages all along because they were in cahoots together?

Interesting work-time soap opera @DylanMueller unwittingly entered.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@SpatzieLover You guys are coming up with all these scenarios out of nothing, as far as I can tell! Where are you getting the plot?

6rant6's avatar

@Dutchess_III I’m beginning to think there was an episode of Simon and Simon you were supposed to watch before you attempted to answer this question.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Never heard of that show. But SNL (70’s style) is starting to come to mind!

JLeslie's avatar

@SpatzieLover I wasn’t thinking they were in cahoots. Only wondering if we have a legal obligation to report such things if we become aware of it? If we know someone is doing something ilegal?

Dutchess_III's avatar

We don’t know who is doing what or why, guys! This question is so surreal….

jca's avatar

@bolwerk: I guess what I am not understanding is your paranoia.

bolwerk's avatar

@jca: It’s not paranoia. I know how police operate, I know how procedure is stacked against suspects, and I also know that helluva convictions happen because of something someone says to the cops. And then drug cases are more morally, legally, and emotionally charged than most. Quite the opposite of paranoia, I’ve repeatedly said he has a low chance of getting in trouble, but even if he comes under suspicion his life will be made miserable so it is worth it to hedge his bets. That’s just how it is, point blank.

Unless you get all your knowledge of police procedure from Car 54, Where Are You?, I’m rather perplexed that you would even find that debatable.

BTW, know why rich people almost never go to jail? They keep lawyers handy!

jca's avatar

@bolwerk: We each have our opinions, and we’ll have to respectfully agree to disagree.

bolwerk's avatar

@jca: My only opinion is that he should have spoken to a lawyer, but it’s really up to him if he wants to hedge his bets. The facts that lead me to that opinion are fairly unassailable: minimally his life could be made miserable and in theory he really could be in deep legal trouble if the wind blows turns the wrong way, and to deny that possibility because you don’t like it is simply delusional.

If this matter is already closed entirely, then he can probably put it behind him. If it’s not, and there is an ongoing investigation, maybe he should still at least speak to a lawyer.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Goodness @bolwerk the police aren’t involved. The Feds are.

@DylanMueller‘s tip might even be worth a few hundred dollars. Most likely the investigation will take months. During that time I would think that @Dylan would be interviewed.

IMO, he will in no way need an attorney for tipping off the Feds to the crime he didn’t commit.

I’ve worked with the police, and the Feds on numerous occasions and have never once needed an attorney.

bolwerk's avatar

@SpatzieLover: I assumed it would be USPIS, which is considered a police force. No matter, law enforcement is involved. If he will be interviewed without immunity, he will definitely want an attorney present. If they’re done with him after he tipped, maybe he can simply put this behind him.

jca's avatar

@bolwerk: Part of his job (as is presumably any person in the office) is to sign for mail when it comes in. The manager told him there were drugs in the envelope. It’s not like it’s his word against the world’s. There are other people in the office that would corroborate what he’s saying. That’s why I think what you’re thinking, that the cops (or USPIS) will randomly choose to “make his life miserable” sounds paranoid.

DylanMueller's avatar

Okay, if anyone wants to know about the theft and such going on or rather, that was going on at my place of work please check out my past questions. But for those of you who are a little confused here’s a brief analysis of what happened:

My manager has been stealing sales from me, and my co-worker. Recently my co-worker and I decided to put all of our evidence together and present it to upper management. No immediate action was taken, which led us to believe that she’d continue working there even after her fraud, theft and just all around unethical behavior.

On Thursday I was told a package was going to arrive that I must sign for (As I always do when packages arrive, and in most cases I’m not aware of what the contents are.) and that I am under no circumstances to open this package. I thought it was weird because I never open packages without asking my manager anyway, so why this time did she have to stress to me? But in any case I looked over the package, the sender’s name was “Big Fish” and the address he put down is a marina in Florida. I felt the envelope (Overnight/Extremely Urgent) and I could tell there was something like pills inside of it, but no documents because the package/envelope hardly weighed anything.

As soon as my co-worker arrived my manager asked to speak to her, to which she then told her that there are drugs known as Suboxone in that envelope and to not let me find out. Since my co-worker and I were attempting to build a case against her she decided to inform me and then we wrote up an e-mail to upper management. Informing them of the illegal drugs allegedly in this envelope and that we may not be terminated because we are engaging in protected conduct, per CEPA. Immediately we recieved a phone call from the president of the company asking us what’s going on, very concerned.

He instructed us to find the local police officer and ask them if this statement, which after all is heresay is enough to open the envelope out of probable cause. He said it’s a federal matter and that we should call the Postal Inspector.

I called the Postal Inspector, to which I wasn’t available so I was transferred to the National Law Enforcement Commission. I told them this whole story and then 15 minutes later I receieved a call from a Federal Agent.

He told me that based on the fact that the envelope/package is addressed to the business and not my manager personally, that we have the right and ability to open it without fear of prosecution. I opened the envelope and found 10, 8mg packages of Suboxone and immediately mailed the envelope, and all of its contents in another envelope to the Federal Agent.

I’ve been told that they will run tests and analyze whether or not they are in fact real drugs, then dispose of them immediately. After which the case will be handed over to a federal prosecutor to decide if or not charges will be pressed. I have asked to be notified of any new developments in this case.

laurenkem's avatar

@DylanMueller Okay, that clears up some things, but what is the status of your manager as of right now, pending the Feds’ tests? Is that manager still there? Has the company taken any action against her, i.e. suspension at this point? Please keep us posted – I, for one, am following this with great curiosity.

DylanMueller's avatar

She was terminated immediately following the discovery/opening of the envelope.

6rant6's avatar

Still not sure I understand….
“On Thursday I was told [by your manager?] a package was going to arrive that I must sign for…

Also, there was no name on the package, or was your manager’s name on it?

DylanMueller's avatar

That’s correct, the actual package was addressed to our business. No person’s name was on it to be received or opened by. Therefore receiving authorization from a federal agent and president of the company was enough to open the package and look through the contents.

bolwerk's avatar

@jca: no, I’m not being paranoid. You’re either really naive or are being deliberately obstinate. I’m not impugning police when I say circumstantial evidence or other parties misleading them sometimes leads them down the wrong path. And, yeah, sure, a lot of police officers actually are pigs, and many of them will lie to satisfy a prejudicial hunch. Sorry, but it’s not paranoia to acknowledge reality.

For the nth time, it may be a low-risk, but you’re full of shit if you’re saying it’s not a risk. Many if not most convictions turn on what someone says to the police. It just never, ever makes sense to be interviewed by law enforcement without a lawyer or immunity. Ever.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Let’s get back to the original question, please. Thanks!

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Dutchess_III's avatar

Wah! Response moderated (Whining)

Yes, the police/Feds, whomever, can open an envelope if they have reasonable cause to believe the envelope carries illegal drugs, and several phone calls regarding this package would probably give them reasonable cause to AT LEAST X-ray it. But that point is moot because you already opened it.

DylanMueller's avatar

@bolwerk You are being very paraniod. The police ARE NOT INVOLVED. How many times do I have to re-post what has happened for you to get that?

jca's avatar

@bolwerk: I think if the OP had something to hide, then yes, a lawyer should accompany him. I am not so naive to think that when someone commits a crime and is being interviewed by police, they should not say a word without their lawyer present. However, in this case, the OP has nothing to hide. He was at work, with people to back up what he is saying. I am glad someone else agrees that insisting on a lawyer in this instance is paranoid.

bolwerk's avatar

@DylanMueller: you seemed to say the postal inspector is involved, or some other unspecified “federal agent.” The former would be a police force, and most likely the latter too. Local police are not the only police, anyway. What exactly am I being paranoid about?

@jca: I forgot how the universe always rewards innocent people. Your argument is literally analogous to well, you don’t smoke, you don’t need insurance.

DylanMueller's avatar

@bolwerk Just because they are policing, doesn’t make them police. It’s the federal government we are talking about. You’re being arrogant and paranoid.

bolwerk's avatar

@DylanMueller: Uh, “policing” kind of is the definition of what makes a police agency. In the case of the U.S. federal government, there are numerous examples: FBI, ATF, secret service, marshals, blah blah. Postal police and Amtrak police are likewise federally chartered, and have investigative and arresting powers.

And what’s with the personal attacks? I sincerely gave you about the soundest advice you can get in your situation as I understood it at the time – and for all this teeth gnashing about innocence, it basically still stands, if this isn’t entirely behind you. There is simply no arrogance or paranoia involved. Not on my part, anyway. If anything, quite the opposite.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@bolwerk The OP involved the police and the federal agents. They weren’t involved before he contacted them.

bolwerk's avatar

@Dutchess_III: I know. What is your point?

SpatzieLover's avatar

@bolwerk What’s your point? Your thought train bewilders me.

It seems as though your thought is that the entire governement is corrupt.

And, yeah, sure, a lot of police officers actually are pigs, and many of them will lie to satisfy a prejudicial hunch. Sorry, but it’s not paranoia to acknowledge reality.

That sounds like a paranoid, conspiracy theory to me. As a property owner/manager and a regular tax paying citizen I have needed assistance from various policing agencies from time to time and occassionally they have need my assistance. Never once have I run into a liar or a pig.

According to you Sorry, but it’s not paranoia to acknowledge reality. some how my reality is warped.

Seriously, this question is in General. I am not understanding how you feel your responses are helping @Dylan. He called the Feds. The Feds are now investigating his boss. Not him. His boss.

bolwerk's avatar

@SpatzieLover: I pointed out, before I had all the information about this matter, that the OP should consider talking to a lawyer, which set @jca off on this weird crusade to prove that innocent people don’t need lawyers because the innocent are always vindicated. Or something.

And there isn’t any doubt that some police lie, plant drugs, use excessive force, blah blah, when it suits them. Because it doesn’t happen often to white upstanding property owner/managers and regular tax paying citizens – and is rare enough to make the news (notice that the news considers the apparent beating of a handcuffed man almost irrelevant) when it does – you assume it doesn’t happen to anyone.

When drugs are involved, the wind blowing the wrong way can be all the worse. Here‘s a rather disturbing example that you probably did hear about. I could give you plenty more, admittedly rarely with upper middle class suburbanites as the victim. It just makes more sense to be protected, not in spite of your innocence but because of it.

jca's avatar

@bolwerk: The OP was the recipient of something that came in the mail. Other people knew it came via mail. OP had to sign for it being delivered, so it’s not like he had his own drugs and was trying to say they came via mail. That is why not only me, but others agree with me, that a lawyer in this case is excessive and that is why several people on this thread are saying your views on this one are paranoid.

Your additional language calling out what I said in particular as “a weird crusade to prove blah blah blah” is uncalled for.

bolwerk's avatar

@jca: Calling me paranoid and arrogant is “additional language” that might be called inappropriate, since there is evidence of neither. In fact, from the beginning, I said the chances of him getting in trouble were low. It’s right here in the buffer – I really said it. That’s not something a paranoid person would say. Paranoid people think completely disconnected events have a probability of 1 of causing them harm. Then, I’ve cited at least informally cited procedure, news, legal opinions, rules, probably even cases – hardly the babbling of someone who is simply paranoid. But apparently when I’m the target of gratuitous labeling, it’s allowed since I have the minority viewpoint – albeit, based partly upon more personal and professional experience with these matters than most of y’all, I’m seriously sad to say. Regardless, all along, I’ve done better than, well, bad things just don’t happen to innocent people.

Anyway, I can see the OP’s account of the story. You don’t need to keep telling me things I already know – especially when they, in fact, support exactly why my advice was (and is) good. The Calvos, afterall, received something in the mail too.

CWOTUS's avatar

If we can all just take a deep breath and step down from our high horses for a moment…

There wasn’t anything wrong with @bolwerk‘s advice, in general, other than (maybe) a presumption that it’s common for cops to act badly. Some do, but fortunately that’s not common, and even the bad ones aren’t always looking to screw innocent people. As an aside, I had a years-long relationship with a woman who had been a deputy in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office for over ten years, and her advice was essentially the same: Don’t talk to police if you can help it. Make sure that you have competent representation present when you do talk to them. During an investigation they are looking for suspects, and if you pop up on the radar you can become a suspect – and then go through hell trying to “prove your innocence” – which we all know should not be necessary and which is logically impossible in any case – so just keep your mouth shut if that’s possible. She wasn’t saying anything about “bad cops”, but she had a lot to say about “a broken process and over-zealous prosecutors”. Staying off the radar is the best defense.

And I’m sure that @jca and others who are on the side of properly-administered and competent police and criminal prosecutions (and aren’t we all?) had the right idea that “the OP is a good guy, and innocent, and just trying to do the best thing for all of the good folks involved” ... but things go wrong sometimes, and for @bolwerk to be the one to point that out doesn’t make him a paranoid conspiracy theory nut… and by gum, police should be (and 99% of the time surely are) on the side of “all of the good folks involved”.

If we can just back off from the hardline defensive positions that the sides in this discussion are taking: You’re all right. The discussion could have been aided with the presentation in the original post of full and accurate details (which didn’t come until later in the thread), but after all, @DylanMueller is a new user and allowed a certain amount of slack, too.

Now let’s all hold hands and sing, “Kumbaya…”

bolwerk's avatar

Thank you, @CWOTUS. Also, I made no such assumption, but that depends where you go and who you are. I didn’t know these things about the OP.

Frankly, I just take it that cops are people who are prone to being at least as arbitrary and capricious as any other human being, however. This is sometimes dangerous, because they have an excessively strong benefit of the doubt and a great deal of latitude to use force and arrest – not to mention make mistakes. I don’t dehumanize them into baton-wielding pigs, but turning them into angelic little snowflakes strikes me as no more realistic.

Iconspired2's avatar

Presently in the situation of being accused of mailing illegal narcotics, working on hiring my third attorney, speaking directly with a postal inspector and a good bit or reading it goes something like this. First off to open US Mail the law states that mail can be opened by warrant authorized by law and that only federal warrants are authorized. Technically if local authorities suspect narcotics being sent via US Mail they can contact the postal inspector and request a mail cover form. The inspector will usually obtain a warrant, open the envelope or package having their lab test the contents. They will then seal the item back up and send it out for delivery. The problem is cops do not know all the laws as well as some that do and just ignore them. It’s not their job to worry about the case they just want the arrest. In my case a person I’ve known approximately 6 years was in a bad way in another state loosing a battle with cocaine addiction and ended up getting (almost) getting arrested and told if she didn’t get them someone the 20 pills she sold carry a max penalty of 5 years per pill so she decided she might better pass her bad choice onto someone else and what easier someone than one that doesn’t even live in the same state. After repeated calls for about a month she got her wish. As I pulled into the parking lot of the US post office, exited the vehicle with a sealed and addressed Express Mail envelope to purchase postage I was approached by two undercover agents that blocked my path. I was asked if I knew why they were there at which time I stated I believe I need to talk to an attorney. The envelope was taken out of my hand and I was put in hand cuffs. Transported to the local sheriffs office and finger printed and then I waited, and waited. Two and a half hours later a search warrant signed by a local state magistrate arrived and they opened the envelope. Now the way they have spun the story is they claim I openly admitted there was narcotics in the envelope and intend to use that against me at trial. So yes they can open it without a federal warrant but the first thing I would do is file mail tampering charges against them. Do the research yourself and stay on your attorney. I’ve been dealing with this issue over a year now and they attempted to railroad me by having the suppression hearing the same day as trial. So now we’ve got college educated professionals violating civil rights and the judge not even looking into the jurisdiction. Even stating , “though he may have been unlawfully detained and well I don’t know about the jurisdiction but the higher courts can figure that out” They do what they want, hell you’d only sit in prison about 2 years hoping your appeal goes through.

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