Is It Illegal To Send Someone A Box Of Poop In The Mail?

28 August 2015
 Categories: , Blog

In an age when you can order just about everything through the internet, the temptation is there: sending a gift (anonymously, of course) of a big pile of poop to the boss, ex-spouse, co-worker, or neighbor that's been giving you fits. But is it legal? Maybe. Before you hit that "purchase" button, understand how it might get you into trouble. 

It can and has been done.

In 2014, a card game manufacturer offered bull feces as a Black Friday special for $6 a box. Around 30,000 people ordered, and received, poop in the mail. The transaction was entirely legal, and there's nothing in the U.S. Postal Code that prevents feces from being mailed, just so long as it is properly packaged. 

There are actually several companies that specialize in sending feces through the mail. However, all of them are careful to include some variation of legal disclaimer that makes it clear that while they will accept your credit card number, they won't accept responsibility for your unlawful use of their services.

If the disclaimers don't give you momentary pause before you order, they should.

It really is the thought that counts.

It is completely legal to get poop shipped to yourself or someone else as a gag gift. That "entertainment purposes only" clause in all the disclaimers that you find on websites offering various animal droppings for sale is very important, because it differentiates the "gag" gift from intentional harassment, which can open you up to charges in criminal or civil court.

Criminal harassment can result from any sort of action that the harasser knows is likely to cause fear or intimidation in the person being harassed, or even just subjects that person to intentional embarrassment or annoyance. Civil harassment charges are similar, but usually involve someone with whom there is a more personal connection, such as an ex-partner or feuding relative.

Usually, the difference between something like a box of excrement in the mail being classified as a joke and a legal offence comes down to the intentions of the sender -- which can be difficult to prove in court.

Often, the history between the sender and recipient is what ends up being examined before charges are pressed or during a court hearing. The number of times the "joke" was played could also be an issue. For example, a Maryland high school senior was arrested after sending at least three different boxes of feces from various animals to his school's vice-principal. One box might have been considered a joke in poor taste, but it is harder to excuse a series of such "gifts."

A woman in Iowa is in a similar situation. In her case, however, she only sent one box of feces to neighbors who had complained about the noise from her barking dogs. While the woman claims that she meant it only as a joke, the ongoing problems between the neighbors would seem to discredit her.

It might be smart to ask a lawyer.

What if you've already sent someone your metaphorical sentiments this way? If you were angry and didn't stop to think about what you were doing, you could find yourself the subject of some not-so-friendly questioning by the local police. More than likely, the person who received your package has a good idea that you were responsible and has sent the police in your direction.

Never discuss anything that you might have done with the police before you speak to a defense attorney if it has the potential to get you charged with a crime. Don't lie to the police, but decline to discuss the situation without an attorney's advice.

A local attorney like Andrew H P Norton is going to be able to give you the best advice about any laws in your jurisdiction and advise you on how to proceed.