Penal code section 591- Damaging phone or electrical lines

The issues pertaining to damaging phones or electrical lines are covered under the California Penal Code section 591. This regulation makes it illegal to intentionally and malevolently remove, injure, obstruct, disconnect or irrevocably damage wires, cables, or other such equipment that is indispensable for a telephone, electric service or cable to function properly.

For the prosecutor to win a case for the victim who has claimed that the defendant has committed the crime of injuring a phone or electrical connection under the penal code 591, these elements must be proven:

· The defendant has deliberately and maliciously injured, disconnected, harmed, removed, or obstructed the accuser's telegraph, telephone, cable, or cordless telephone lines.

· The defendant wasn’t permitted to carry out these actions, or

· Unlawfully created an unauthorized connection with a pre-existing line to fulfill his mechanical and electrical requisites.

The common examples of this charge include unlawfully and maliciously disrupting a neighbor’s mediums of communication to injure or annoy them. Similarly, in the case of domestic violence, the act of interrupting the victim's chance of reaching out to someone in times of crisis to prevent him/her from disclosing the truth about the abuser also qualifies as a disregard of the law.

Bear in mind that if somehow, the deed of damaging the phone or electrical lines was prompted by an accident or inadvertent event, the convict cannot be held guilty of breaching the penal code section 591.


The violation of section 591 in California is classified as a wobbler; meaning, it can either come under the charge of a felony or misdemeanor. If somebody has raised a set of allegations against the convict under this law, the mode of penalty will wholly depend on his criminal history and the specifics of the incident. The repercussions of establishing a defendant guilty for disobeying the rules of penal code 591 are:

· If convicted for a misdemeanor, the defendant can be sentenced to jail for up to a year and fined $1000.

· If convicted of a felony, the accused can be charged $10,000 as fine and might have to spend two or three years in prison or one year in the county jail.

If the actions of the alleged victim inflict financial damage in the victim’s properties, the former will be further subjected to bearing the liabilities in a civil case for castigatory destruction along with the cost of repair and restoration.

Available defenses:

A trustworthy criminal defense lawyer is aware of the most common legal defenses to battle the charges of violating California’s penal code 591, damaging phone or electrical lines, some of which are as follows:

· The activities did not include the exact elements of the crime

If there’s a possibility where your lawyer can confirm that your activities that led to the damage of the phone and electrical lines of the victim were not malicious or unlawful in nature, you can be relieved of the charges. Even if the prosecutor ascertains that you were negligent while hampering the lines, it does not have to be recognized as a defiance of the penal code 591.

· It was accidental

If the action was injuring the electrical or telephone line was accidental, you cannot be held responsible for the consequences.

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