Tampering is more than just messing with another person’s property. The actual definition of tampering is when someone interferes with something in order to cause harm or damage to the owner or others through unauthorized alterations. Tampering can be anything from tinkering with someone else’s car without their permission or even altering your utility gauges. If you’ve been charged with tampering, meet with a felony lawyer immediately to discuss your options.
Tampering – First Degree Statute
Citation: MO Rev Stat § 569.080 (2015)
- A person commits the offense of tampering in the first degree if he or she:
(1) For the purpose of causing a substantial interruption or impairment of a service rendered to the public by a utility or by an institution providing health or safety protection, damages or tampers with property or facilities of such a utility or institution, and thereby causes substantial interruption or impairment of service; or
(2) Knowingly receives, possesses, sells, or unlawfully operates an automobile, airplane, motorcycle, motorboat or other motor-propelled vehicle without the consent of the owner thereof.
- Upon a finding by the court that the probative value outweighs the prejudicial effect, evidence of the following is admissible in any criminal prosecution of a person under subdivision (2) of subsection 1 of this section to prove the requisite knowledge that he or she:
(1) Received, possessed, sold, or operated an automobile, airplane, motorcycle, motorboat, or other motor-propelled vehicle unlawfully on a separate occasion; or
(2) Acquired the automobile, airplane, motorcycle, motorboat, or other motor-propelled vehicle for a consideration which he or she knew was far below its reasonable value.
- The offense of tampering in the first degree is a class D felony.
Tampering – Second Degree Statute
Citation: MO Rev Stat § 569.090 (2018)
- A person commits the offense of tampering in the second degree if he or she:
(1) Tampers with property of another for the purpose of causing substantial inconvenience to that person or to another; or
(2) Unlawfully rides in or upon another’s automobile, airplane, motorcycle, motorboat or other motor-propelled vehicle; or
(3) Tampers or makes connection with property of a utility; or
(4) Tampers with, or causes to be tampered with, any meter or other property of an electric, gas, steam or water utility, the effect of which tampering is either:
(a) To prevent the proper measuring of electric, gas, steam or water service; or
(b) To permit the diversion of any electric, gas, steam or water service.
- In any prosecution under subdivision (4) of subsection 1, proof that a meter or any other property of a utility has been tampered with, and the person or persons accused received the use or direct benefit of the electric, gas, steam or water service, with one or more of the effects described in subdivision (4) of subsection 1, shall be sufficient to support an inference which the trial court may submit to the trier of fact, from which the trier of fact may conclude that there has been a violation of such subdivision by the person or persons who use or receive the direct benefit of the electric, gas, steam or water service.
- Tampering in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor unless:
(1) Committed as a second or subsequent violation of subdivision (4) of subsection 1, in which case it is a class E felony; or
(2) The defendant has a prior conviction or has previously been found guilty pursuant to paragraph (a) of subdivision (3) of subsection 5 of section 570.030, or subdivision (2) of subsection 1 of this section, in which case it is a class D felony.
Penalty of Conviction
Tampering with a vehicle or other property in Missouri is a very serious crime and considered a felony charge. People can face up to seven years in prison or find themselves with up to a $5,000 fine if found guilty of tampering in the first degree. If found guilty of second degree tampering, they’ll be charged with up to a $1,000 fine or up to one year in jail.