At the Law Office of Marlin Stapleton Jr. and Scott D. Henry, we are the area’sleading domestic violence law firm. We represent individuals who are charged with domestic violence crimes including California Penal Code 591 PC. This law makes it a crime to disconnect, remove, injure or obstruct wires for telephone, cable or electrical service or equipment connected to those wires with malicious intent. A harsher charge, Penal Code 594 PC vandalism, may be called against you for damaging phone or electrical lines during an episode of domestic violence or another such burglary. If you are charged with damaging lines in Orange County, you need a lawyer to represent you.

The Legal Definition of Damaging Lines

Our lawyer can help explain the details of the charges against you and how they fit in with the legal definition of damaging lines. According to California Penal Code 591, a person could be convicted of damaging lines if they have done any of the following:

  • Take down, remove, injure, disconnect, cut or obstruct the lines.
  • Unlawfully and maliciously damage any telegraph, telephone, cable television, electrical line or apparatus connected to any such line.

You can also be charged with criminal obstructing or cutting electrical or telephone lines as a result of unlawfully making an unauthorized connection with an electrical line. “Maliciously” means that you intended to injure another person or do a wrongful act while accessing the electrical, cable or phone lines. If you did not act with malicious intent, then California’s penal code explains that you are not guilty of the crime of damaging phone or electrical lines.

Penalties for Damaging Electrical or Telephone Wires in Orange County

In Orange County, cutting electrical, telephone or cable lines what is known as a “wobbler” law. A wobbler law allows the court and prosecutors discretion as to whether to charge the defendant with a misdemeanor or felony in California. The prosecutor makes the choice based on the exact nature of the allegations and the defendant’s criminal history. The amount of damage done, alleged motive and mitigating circumstances may also factor into the prosecutor’s decision on whether to charge the crime as a misdemeanor or felony offense. It is important to understand the criminal penalties for committing such crimes in California. The law states the penalties for damaging lines as follows:

For Misdemeanor Crimes:

  • Misdemeanor (summary) probation for up to three years
  • Up to one year in Orange County jail
  • A fine of up to $1,000

For Felony Damaging Lines

Under Penal Code 591 PC as a felony, you may face the following penalties if you are convicted of the charges:

  • Felony (formal) probation
  • Up to 16 months, 2 years or 3 years served in county jail under California’s realignment program
  • A fine of up to $10,000

If you damaged lines at the same time as committing another time, you may also face additional penalties related to any other charges that you are convicted of by a jury.

Legal Defense Strategies

The most commonly used legal defense to charges of damaging telephone, electrical or utility lines is that of doing the damage on accident. Even if you were negligent in your actions, damaging or cutting utility lines by accident cannot support a conviction of the criminal offense of damaging lines. If you did not act with an intent to cause harm or injury, which is the malicious intent as described by California law, then you are not guilty of this offense.

Consult an Orange County Attorney When Facing Charges for Damaging Lines

If you are facing charges for damaging lines in Orange County our law firm is here to provide you with the legal representation you need in order to protect your rights under state law. Our attorneys can meet with you, listen to the details of your case, and provide you with court representation. Call us at the Law Office of Scott D. Henry today to schedule a consultation with our criminal defense attorney.

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