(a) The following definitions govern the construction of this section:
(1) “Person” means any individual, or any partnership, firm, association, corporation, limited liability company, or other legal entity.
(2) “Utility” means any electrical, gas, or water corporation as those terms are defined in the Public Utilities Code, and electrical, gas, or water systems operated by any political subdivision.
(3) “Customer” means the person in whose name utility service is provided.
(4) “Utility service” means the provision of electricity, gas, water, or any other service provided by the utility for compensation.
(5) “Divert” means to change the intended course or path of electricity, gas, or water without the authorization or consent of the utility.
(6) “Tamper” means to rearrange, injure, alter, interfere with, or otherwise prevent from performing a normal or customary function.
(7) “Reconnection” means the reconnection of utility service by a customer or other person after service has been lawfully disconnected by the utility.
(b) Any person who, with intent to obtain for himself or herself utility services without paying the full lawful charge therefor, or with intent to enable another person to do so, or with intent to deprive any utility of any part of the full lawful charge for utility services it provides, commits, authorizes, solicits, aids, or abets any of the following shall be guilty of a misdemeanor:
(1) Diverts or causes to be diverted utility services, by any means.
(2) Prevents any utility meter, or other device used in determining the charge for utility services, from accurately performing its measuring function by tampering or by any other means.
(3) Tampers with any property owned by or used by the utility to provide utility services.
(4) Makes or causes to be made any connection with or reconnection with property owned or used by the utility to provide utility services without the authorization or consent of the utility.
(5) Uses or receives the direct benefit of all or a portion of utility services with knowledge or reason to believe that the diversion, tampering, or unauthorized connection existed at the time of that use, or that the use or receipt was otherwise without the authorization or consent of the utility.
(c) In any prosecution under this section, the presence of any of the following objects, circumstances, or conditions on premises controlled by the customer or by the person using or receiving the direct benefit of all or a portion of utility services obtained in violation of this section shall permit an inference that the customer or person intended to and did violate this section:
(1) Any instrument, apparatus, or device primarily designed to be used to obtain utility services without paying the full lawful charge therefor.
(2) Any meter that has been altered, tampered with, or bypassed so as to cause no measurement or inaccurate measurement of utility services.
(d) If the value of all utility services obtained in violation of this section totals more than nine hundred fifty dollars ($950) or if the defendant has previously been convicted of an offense under this section or any former section which would be an offense under this section, or of an offense under the laws of another state or of the United States which would have been an offense under this section if committed in this state, then the violation is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or in the state prison.
(e) This section shall not be construed to preclude the applicability of any other provision of the criminal law of this state.
(Amended by Stats. 2009, 3rd Ex. Sess., Ch. 28, Sec. 24. (SB 18 3x) Effective January 25, 2010.)
Last modified: October 25, 2018