Can i be held accountable for the items being delivered through my courier service?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can i be held accountable for the items being delivered through my courier service?

Basically I would like to step up a PO box and an online service in which people can have online purchases delivered to my PO box, then I collect their delivery and bring it to them where/when ever suits them. I believe it would be an ideal service for someone who wants to order a gift for someone they live with and is afraid that person would open it something along those lines. However, what if someone were to use my service to order something illegal, how accountable would I, the courier, be for this? And what steps, if any, can I take to not be held accountable?

Asked on April 1, 2017 under Criminal Law, Alaska


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You would only be liable if you knew or had some reason to know (e.g. based on behavior, comments, the nature and frequency of deliveries, and/or who is  using your service [e.g. are they someone known to be a drug user or dealer?]) that your service was being used for contraband. To better protect yourself, have all customers execute or sign an agreement that they acknowledge that your service may not be used in violation of any law, including but not limited to receiving stolen goods or controlled dangerous substances, and further that you have the right to cancel the service at will, subject only to refunding any unused payments--and then, if you do become suspicious, use that authority to stop receiving for the person.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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