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In our ongoing series of posts we’ve taken a look at California’s penal code to get a better understanding of how the law works. In the process, we’ve covered a lot of laws that deal primarily with causing some harm, either deliberately or inadvertently, to someone else. But with the charge we’re looking at in this post, damaging phone, electrical or utility lines, the focus is more on the damage you’re causing to something physical, and for hindering someone from getting the service that they’d normally be provided with. So in the process, we’re going to examine some definitions, punishments, and legal defenses that are involved with this charge so we can get a better understanding of it. That being said, let’s go ahead and start off with a few definitions.
Definitions of Damaging Phone, Electrical or Utility Lines
Under this law, you’re guilty of damaging phone, electrical or utility lines if you take down, injure, remove, disconnect, cut, or otherwise obstruct a telephone, telegraph, cable TV or electrical line, or anything that might be connected to this line in a way that’s unlawful and malicious. The thing is, this law doesn’t just apply if you damage or destroy one of the aforementioned lines. It also applies if you make an unauthorized connection to an existing line to get some kind of service for free. Now by maliciously, we mean that you intentionally wanted to either harm someone or else do some kind of wrongful act. So while the definitions are fairly extensive, at least now you have a better understanding of the law, which will make it that much easier to get a handle on how this law is punished and what you can do to defend against it. So let’s go ahead and look at how this particular law is punished.
Punishment for Damaging Phone, Electrical or Utility Lines
If you’ve been checking out our other articles on California penal code, you’ll know that some laws fall under what’s known as being a wobbler, which in simple terms means that they can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. This is one of those laws. The choice between the two will depend on the actual severity of the crime, as well as your previous criminal history. The misdemeanor version is punished with up to a year in county jail and up to a $1,000 fine. The felony charge is punished with a felony probation, county jail time of sixteen months, two, or three years in California’s realignment program, and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Legal Defenses for Damaging Phone, Electrical or Utility Lines
In terms of legal defense, the most common one that people go with is that what happened was an accident. No matter what kind of damage might have been done, if you didn’t act maliciously, that is with the intent to harm someone or do something that was wrongful, you can’t be held responsible.
No matter what kind of legal problems you might be going through, we’ve got you covered.
As you can see, things aren’t that complicated in the California penal code when you break them down into their individual parts and explain things in a way that’s at once simple and accessible. That way it becomes much easier to mount a good legal defense and get your charges either dismissed or reduced. On the subject, if you’re facing any kind of legal trouble, it’ll be best for you to get in contact with us as soon as possible. You’ll be happy you did so.