18 U.S. Code § 1365 - Tampering with Consumer Products
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) regulate consumer products to ensure they are safe for citizens to use and to prevent harm to the companies selling them.
Suppose someone tampers with a consumer product. In that case, it's a federal crime under Title 18 U.S. Code 1365.
Many measures are in place to safeguard consumer products, such as sealed bottle caps, which are placed there to ensure the safety of consumers. Tampering with these products could be life-threatening.
18 U.S.C. 1365 says, “(a) Whoever, with reckless disregard for the risk that another person will be placed in danger of death or bodily injury and under the circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to such risk, tampers with any consumer product that affects interstate or foreign commerce, or the labeling of, or container for, any such product, or attempts to do so, shall….”
The FDA regulates the safety of consumer products such as food, produce, and drugs. Further, they created the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) to ensure food safety from production to consumers and regulate consumer food tampering.
Another agency responsible for protecting the public from any risk of consumer products is the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which sets strict regulations on consumer products designed for food safety.
Suppose you are convicted of violating 18 U.S.C. 1365 tampering with consumer products. In that case, you are facing 5-20 years in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. In addition, if somebody dies due to your actions, the sentence could be life in prison. Let's review this federal law in more detail below.
What Are Some Examples?
Consumer product tampering becomes a federal crime when the product affects interstate or foreign commerce. Most cases of product tampering fall within federal jurisdiction and include the following examples:
- Tamper with the product itself or the label;
- Tamper with the product container;
- Tainting the product inside;
- False claims that the product was tainted;
- Making threats to tamper with a product;
- Conspiracy with other people to tamper with a product;
- Attempting the above actions.
Notably, 18 U.S.C. 1365 only applies to consumer product tampering during manufacturing, distribution, and before selling. Once the product leaves the store, tampering would fall under other state-level laws.
What Are the Related Crimes?
18 U.S. Code Chapter 65 Malicious Mischief has several federal statutes that are related to 18 U.S.C. 1365 tampering with consumer products, such as the following:
- 18 U.S.C. 1361 – Government property or contracts;
- 18 U.S.C. 1362 – Communication lines, stations, or systems;
- 18 U.S.C. 1363 – Buildings or property within special jurisdiction;
- 18 U.S.C. 1364 – Interference with foreign commerce by violence;
- 18 U.S.C. 1366 – Destruction of an energy facility;
- 18 U.S.C. 1367 – Interference with the operation of a satellite;
- 18 U.S.C. 1368 – Harming animals used in law enforcement;
- 18 U.S.C. 1368 – Destruction of veterans' memorials;
- 21 U.S.C. 350i – Intentional adulteration.
What Are the Penalties for 18 U.S.C. 1365?
If you're convicted of federal consumer product tampering, the penalties include the following:
- Tampering or attempting tampering without an injury includes up to 10 years in federal prison;
- Tampering resulting in a serious injury to someone includes up to 20 years in prison;
- If you injure a business without the intent to hurt or kill someone, you are facing three years in prison;
- If you make false claims of tampering or make threats to tamper with a product, you are facing up to five years in prison;
- Communicating false information about a product being tainted carries five years in prison;
- Tainting a consumer product carries up to three years in prison;
- Tampering involving death carries up to life in prison.
What Are the Defenses for 18 U.S.C. 1365?
To convict you of product tampering, the federal prosecutor must be able to prove all the elements of the crime. Our federal criminal defense lawyers could use different strategies discussed below.
Perhaps we can argue that there is insufficient evidence for a conviction. For example, if you are accused of causing harm to a business or an injury to a victim, perhaps it can't be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Suppose guilt is not in doubt. Perhaps we can negotiate a favorable plea bargain with the prosecutor in that case.
If you are under a criminal investigation or already indicted for product tampering, you will need skilled legal representation for the best chance of a favorable outcome.
Perhaps we can negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce or dismiss the charges, but we must review all the case details first.
You can contact us for a free case evaluation by phone or using the contact form. We defend federal criminal cases throughout the United States. The Hedding Law Firm is located in Los Angeles, CA.