Private Investigations and Personal Security/Police going through mail


I was wondering if police officers are aloud to go through your mail when searching your car. Can they open it? I read that it is a federal crime for ANYONE that opens someone mail. It violates their privacy. They can only open it when a warrant. Is this true? Does it matter if your the sender or reciever of the mail? Thanks.

Hello Daniel,

Your question is very complicated but I will try to give you the most accurate answer that I can.  It is a federal crime to open someone's mail but that law refers to taking it out of their mailbox before they get it and similar situations - not necessarily the one you described - and it applies to the addressee, not the sender.

In order to clarify what happened in your situation, we would have to discuss the situation in great depth.

I don't mean to be vague with respect to your underlying question but I simply can't answer it without knowing a lot more facts about the scenario involved.  If you have further questions, I would advise you to consult with an attorney in your jurisdiction who could answer your question in greater detail.

I hope this helps answer your question.

Wishing you good health and happiness,

Private Investigations and Personal Security

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Sean Carroll


I can answer just about any question which relates to police work, personal security, home & business security, or general law.


I am a 9 year veteran of a major metropolitan police department as a Major Crimes Detective. I have prior experience in the private security sector as well. I also previously owned a security solutions business where we specialized in digital security and surveillance systems including residential and commercial alarms.

I have both a Bachelor's degree and a Master's degree in Criminal Justice.

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