Tampering with utilities or oil or gas equipment
It is a crime in Colorado to:
- Tamper with any property of a utility or institution with the intent to cause interruption or impairment of service or injury, inconvenience, or annoyance (first degree tampering, 18-4-505 C.R.S.),
- Knowingly make an unauthorized connection with property of a utility (second degree tampering, 18-4-506 C.R.S.),
- Knowingly destroy, break, remove, or otherwise tamper with any equipment associated with oil or gas gathering operations or attempt to do so (18-4-506.3 C.R.S.),
- Knowingly alter, obstruct, interrupt, or interfere with the action of any equipment used or associated with oil or gas gathering operation without the consent of the owner or operator, or attempt to do so (18-4-506.3 C.R.S.),
- Connect any pipe, tube, stopcock, wire, cord, socket, motor, or other instrument or contrivance with any main, service pipe, or other medium conducting or supplying gas, water, or electricity to any building without the knowledge and consent of the person supplying such service (18-4-506.5 C.R.S.), or
- Alter, obstruct, or interfere with the action of any meter provided for measuring or registering the quantity of gas, water, or electricity passing through said meter without the knowledge and consent of the person who owns it (18-4-506.5 C.R.S.).
Examples of tampering include (but are not limited to):
- Cutting the electricity to your ex's house,
- Stealing your neighbor's electricity, or
- Tampering with your water meter to make it look as if you used less than you did.
Colorado tampering penalties
If you intentionally cause interruption or impairment of a service rendered to the public by a utility or by an institution providing health or safety protection, it is first degree criminal tampering. First degree tampering is a Colorado class 1 misdemeanor that can be punished by as much as:
- 6 - 18 months in jail, and/or
- A fine of $500-$5,000.
All other forms of tampering – including second degree criminal tampering, and tampering with gas or oil gathering or utility equipment -- are Colorado class 2 misdemeanors. Consequences of tampering as a class 2 misdemeanor can include:
- 3-12 months in jail, and/or
- A fine of $250-$1,000.
Defending Colorado tampering charges
The best defense to a Colorado tampering charge depends on the facts of your case. However, common defenses include (but are not limited to):
- You damaged the equipment accidentally,
- You didn't intend or know you were interrupting or obstructing someone's equipment or surface,
- You thought you were authorized to make the connection, or
- You are a licensed electrical or plumbing contractor who was performing usual and ordinary services in accordance with recognized customs and standards.
Call us for help…
If you have been accused of violating Colorado's tampering laws, we invite you to contact our Colorado criminal defense lawyers for a free consultation.
Our caring Colorado tampering lawyers understand that accidents happen and innocent people often get accused of committing a crime. We'll work hard to make sure we understand your side of the story and present it in the best light to the prosecutor and – if necessary – the jury.
For a prompt response from one of our experienced Colorado defense attorneys, simply fill out the confidential form on this page. Or call us at our Denver home office:
Colorado Legal Defense Group
1400 16th Street
16 Market Square
Denver CO 80202