If you have recently been arrested and charged with damaging phone or electrical lines under California Penal Code §591 in conjunction with a drunk driving offense, the consequences could be devastating. This is a serious crime that could carry harsh criminal penalties if you are found guilty.
For this reason, having an experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney help you clear your name of the charges against you of CA Penal Code §591 – damaging phone or electrical lines charges. Contact us today to find out more about the potential sentence you are facing and how you might defend yourself against these allegations.
What Is California Penal Code §591?
This charge covers situations where you violate California Penal Code Section 591 by damaging phone or electrical lines. If you caused the damage while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, this only makes it worse. You may have run your car into a power pole or a roadside transformer box. If phone lines or electrical service is affected in some way, you can face significant penalties.
For the prosecutor to obtain a conviction under CA PC 591, they must prove that the elements of the offense have been met. These elements include:
- The defendant must have removed, obstructed, disconnected, taken down, or damaged a telephone line, electrical line, or television line.
- The defendant must have done so maliciously, intending to commit a wrongful act, injure, or annoy someone.
You may also face charges under PC §591 if you intentionally remove the battery from someone else’s cell phone or destroy mechanical equipment connected to an electrical or telephone line. Other covered instances include intentionally disconnecting electrical wires to cause a power outage, smashing someone else’s phone during an argument, or cutting someone’s television lines out of spite.
PC §591 is a wobbler offense, which means you could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense based on the specific circumstances of your case. Generally, first-time, non-violent offenders may face misdemeanor charges. In contrast, habitual offenses or incidents where severe bodily injury or death occurred may be more likely to result in felony charges.
Related Criminal Charges You Could Face
In addition to the charges for damaging telephone or electrical lines under California Penal Code Section 591, there are multiple other criminal offenses related to this crime that you could also be charged with. These include:
- Burglary under California Penal Code Section 459 – You can be charged under California Penal Code 459 if you are accused of entering a residence, locked motor vehicle, or a commercial structure with the intent to commit petty theft, grand theft, or any type of felony offense.
- Damaging a communication device to prevent help under California Penal Code Section 591.5 – If you have been accused of obstructing any type of electronic communication device maliciously to prevent someone else from calling for help, you may face criminal charges.
- Vandalism and graffiti under California Penal Code Section 594 – You can face charges under California PC 594 if you maliciously deface, damage, or destroy someone else’s property, specifically utility lines, phone lines, electrical lines, or other related property.
- Driving under the influence under California Vehicle Code Section 23152 – You may be charged with drunk driving under California VC23152 if you are found to be in control of a motor vehicle with blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels at .08% or greater.
Penalties of a CA Penal Code 591 Conviction for Damaging Phone or Electrical Lines
The consequences you can face if you are convicted of damaging electrical or phone lines under California Penal Code 591 can vary depending on whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense.
Misdemeanors are the lesser offense, while felonies are more serious. If you are convicted at the misdemeanor level, you might be ordered to spend up to one year in a California county jail. However, if you were convicted at the felony level, you might spend as much as three years incarcerated.
If you are convicted at the misdemeanor level, you might be ordered to pay signs of up to $1000. However, if you are convicted at the felony level, you may be ordered to pay fines as high as $10,000.
Many factors will be taken into consideration when determining whether you should be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony under California Penal Code 591. Some of these factors include:
- Whether you have a criminal history
- Whether anyone was injured
- Whether a child was involved
- Whether a firearm was involved
- Other facts of the case
Defending Yourself When Accused of Cutting Phone or Electrical Lines Under CA PC 591
Your criminal defense attorney will determine how to approach your defense strategy. Depending on the facts of your case, your attorney may be able to work out a plea agreement or a pretrial diversion program. However, if you do not qualify, you may need to be prepared to defend yourself at trial.
Pretrial diversion programs may be an option if you have not previously been convicted of any type of criminal offense. The prosecutor might be more willing to allow you to enter a pretrial diversion program if no one was injured.
In a pretrial diversion program, you will need to meet specific requirements, including paying restitution, completing community service, enrolling in a drug or alcohol treatment program, and other case-specific requirements. Once you fulfill the terms of your program, the prosecutor will dismiss the charges against you.
However, if you do not follow the terms of your program, the prosecutor has the authority to move forward with the CA PC 591 charge and other-related offenses against you.
California Penal Code 591 Defenses
There are multiple potential defenses that could be used to clear your name when you are facing California PC 591 charges. These include:
- You committed the crime because you had no other choice, such as in the event of an emergency situation.
- You accidentally cut an electrical or phone line as opposed to doing so intentionally.
- You did not act maliciously or had no intent to commit a crime.
Get Help from a Criminal Defense Attorney in CA Today
Criminal charges under CA Penal Code 591 – damaging phone or electrical lines can carry severe penalties. If you have been charged with this offense, your entire future could be in jeopardy. Take steps to protect yourself when you contact a reputable Los Angeles DUI lawyer for help preparing your defense strategy.
Fill out our online contact form or call us to schedule your confidential case evaluation as soon as today.