Just because you see actors doing it in the movies, doesn’t mean you can take a bat to a mailbox with ZERO consequences!
In many classic movies and TV shoes (including Stand By Me, The Benchwarmers, and Dazed & Confused), famous actors like David Spade, Rob Schneider and Jon Heder are shown hanging out of moving vehicles while using baseball bats to knock down mailboxes. This activity is sometimes referred to as ‘Mailbox Baseball’. While these scenes can lead to hilarity in the films they’re in, the movies fail to show the real world consequences if any of the characters had been caught.
To be clear: Mailbox Baseball is a federal crime and you can charges with a felony for taking part in it. Yes, you read that right, children and young adults that have destroyed mailboxes can be and have been given prison sentences because of their actions. The really terrifying part to all of this – skipping over the risk of serious injury to everyone involved – is the fact that the young people that are assigned jail or prison sentences are given them even when they didn’t realize what they were doing was a crime!
Whoever destroys a mailbox or mail can be fined or face up to three years in prison, according to federal law. There is a case in 2014 in which a judge handed out jail time to a man who was a part of a group that racked up over $1,000 in damages during a vandalism spree in Massachusetts. This man was sentenced to 19 ½ consecutive weekends in jail for taking part in the vandalism. Destroying mailboxes is not just a prank, the rest of the young men involved received a punishment for their part as well, 2 of them were given class A misdemeanors and 2 years probation. The last person involved pleaded guilty to a Class 3 felony count of conspiracy to knowingly damage property and received a one-year sentence.
In 2000, four teens were arrested in Clinton, NJ in connection to a series of mailbox vandalisms that tormented a local neighborhood. Between the months of January and March, investigators found that 80 mailboxes were destroyed. The night the teens were arrested they admitted to destroying all of the mailboxes. The three older teens were charged with 80 counts of third-degree criminal mischief and 80 counts of conspiracy to commit criminal mischief. The younger teen was charged with 39 counts.
Similarly, in Clarence, NY in 2017, four teens were arrested for damaging 17 mailboxes. All four of the teens were charged with counts of misdemeanor criminal mischief. What technically is criminal mischief ? Any time a person damages someone else’s property without the owner’s permission, that’s criminal mischief. Although some classic films make destroying mailboxes look fun, it is not an action that is taken lightly.
“Whoever willfully or maliciously injures, tears down or destroys any letter box or other receptacle intended or used for the receipt or delivery of mail on any mail route, or breaks open the same or willfully or maliciously injures, defaces or destroys any mail deposited therein, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”
As kids get ready for summer or even the weekend, when they have free time to do what they want, they should be thinking about making the right decisions and the consequences of their actions. Destroying mailboxes or any other private property is not a game or something to do with your friends when you’re bored, it is a criminal action and there will be real consequences.
Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the articles this piece was sourced from here:
Contributed by: Breanna Rizo
Edited by: Mike Kamer