Damage to or Interruption of a Communication Device in Utah

Some crimes sound fairly minor, but they can wreak havoc on a person’s criminal record. Damage to or interruption of a communication device sounds like a lesser crime but is a class B misdemeanor and can be a common occurrence in domestic disputes.

Communication Device

Photo by: r. nial bradshaw

Utah Code 76-6-S108 defines a communication device as “. . . any device, including a telephone, cellular telephone, computer, or radio, which may be used in an attempt to summon police, fire, medical, or other emergency aid.. . Emergency aid means aid or assistance, including law enforcement, fire, or medical services, commonly summoned by persons concerned with imminent or actual:
• jeopardy to any person’s health or safety; or
• damage to any person’s property.”

Domestic disputes

There are many instances in which someone may damage or interrupt a communication device without malicious intent. For example, during an argument, a husband may decide their wife is losing control and may get violent. Husband tells wife that he is going to call the police. Wife realizes she is sounding out of control, but knows her temper is in check, so she grabs the phone and keeps it away from husband, wanting to explain the situation. Later, the police show up and arrest wife for damage to or interruption of a communications device.

Interruption of a communication device

Photo by: Matt Reinbold

Regardless of the person’s intentions, section 76-6-S108 states: “a person is guilty of damage to or interruption of a communication device if the actor attempts to prohibit or interrupt, or prohibits or interrupts, another person’s use of a communication device when the other person is attempting to summon emergency aid or has communicated a desire to summon emergency aid, and in the process the actor:

a) uses force, intimidation, or any other form of violence;
b) destroys, disables, or damages a communication device; or
c) commits any other act in an attempt to prohibit or interrupt the person’s use of a communication device to summon emergency aid.”

Damage to or interruption of a communication device is a class B misdemeanor which could result in a fine of up to $1,000 and a jail term of no more than six months.

Legal counsel

While there are many instances of damage to or interruption of a communication device that are done with ill intent, there are also many times when it is just a misunderstanding with no knowledge of the severity of the situation. For any charges related to a domestic disturbance that may or may not have been misinterpreted, it is important to contact a criminal defense attorney prior to police questioning.


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