There are some types of services that are available to the public and are absolutely essential. That means that if there is some sort of disruption in those services, it could have negative effects that can truly be devastating. A good example is a blackout, which can make it difficult for people to perform their normal daily activities, interfere with businesses and lead to financial losses and disrupt the normal operations of a hospital. In most cases, a loss of services that is very widespread occurs as a result of adverse weather, technical issues or even human error. However, other times, it can happen due to deliberate tampering. As per the New York Penal Law 145.20, it is illegal to willfully cause such a disruption of services.
Types of Businesses Typically Affected by Disruption of Services
Interfering or tampering with the services of the following types of businesses is illegal and can lead to a charge of criminal tampering in the first degree:
• Steam or water works
• Telephone or telegraph
• Common carrier
• Nuclear powered electric generated facility
• Public utility operated by a district or municipality
Example of Criminal Tampering in the First Degree Under New York Penal Law 145.20
An example of tampering in the first degree under the New York Penal Law 145.20 is that a man was an employee for an electric company for many years. However, due to wanting to reorganize and increase efficiency, the company laid him off, along with around 50 other employees. The man is naturally angry about being let go and decides to “get even.” On his very last day of work, he turns 30 knobs on a group of transformers to the open position, knowing that it would cause major damage. His actions lead to energy being drained from the transformers and a large portion of the city suffers a blackout. Around 100,000 businesses and homes have no power for approximately five to six hours. The actions of the man could see him being charged with and prosecuted for criminal tampering in the first degree.
Possible Defenses for Criminal Tampering in the First Degree
If you performed a certain action or actions that resulted in the interruption of important services but did them by accident, you would not be charged and convicted of criminal tampering. This is because there must be intent behind the actions to be considered a criminal act. The statute also applies only to certain types of companies, which means that if you performed actions to interfere in services at one that doesn’t fall under the category, the statute would not apply. For instance, if you were accused of tampering with cable TV services that resulted in an outage, your NYC criminal lawyer could argue a defense against a charge of criminal tampering in the first degree.
Penalties and Sentences for Criminal Tampering in the First Degree
The crime of criminal tampering in the first degree is considered to be a class D felony. That means that if you are convicted of the crime, you may face as long as seven years in prison. In addition, criminal tampering in the first degree also carries the penalty of a fine. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, the judge may choose to give you a sentence of probation for five years instead of a stay in prison.