What is it and what is the punishment for doing it

By Jedidiah McKeehan

Either you’ve done it, or you know someone who has done it…smashed a mailbox to smithereens.  You/they were probably young and thought it was hilarious and didn’t really think about any possible criminal ramifications.

Well, unfortunately, tampering with a mailbox is against the law.  Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-14-412 states that it is an offense for a person to knowingly damage, destroy or tamper with a mailbox known to be used for the receipt or deposit of U.S. mail.

Thankfully, while a crime, the punishment for tampering with a mailbox is not terribly serious.  The law actually states that at a minimum, someone who tampers with a mailbox should be sentenced to at least 25 hours of community service.

So while it might seem cute or fun to smash a mailbox, please don’t, its against the law!


Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit attorney-knoxville.com for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.