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The Florida Senate

2007 Florida Statutes

Trespass and larceny with relation to utility fixtures.
Section 812.14, Florida Statutes 2007

812.14  Trespass and larceny with relation to utility fixtures.--

(1)  As used in this section, "utility" includes any person, firm, corporation, association, or political subdivision, whether private, municipal, county, or cooperative, which is engaged in the sale, generation, provision, or delivery of gas, electricity, heat, water, oil, sewer service, telephone service, telegraph service, radio service, or telecommunication service.

(2)  It is unlawful to:

(a)  Willfully alter, tamper with, injure, or knowingly suffer to be injured any meter, meter seal, pipe, conduit, wire, line, cable, transformer, amplifier, or other apparatus or device belonging to a utility line service in such a manner as to cause loss or damage or to prevent any meter installed for registering electricity, gas, or water from registering the quantity which otherwise would pass through the same; or to alter the index or break the seal of any such meter; or in any way to hinder or interfere with the proper action or just registration of any such meter or device; or knowingly to use, waste, or suffer the waste, by any means, of electricity or gas or water passing through any such meter, wire, pipe, or fitting, or other appliance or appurtenance connected with or belonging to any such utility, after such meter, wire, pipe or fitting, or other appliance or appurtenance has been tampered with, injured, or altered.

(b)  Make or cause to be made any connection with any wire, main, service pipe or other pipes, appliance, or appurtenance in such manner as to use, without the consent of the utility, any service or any electricity, gas, or water, or to cause to be supplied any service or electricity, gas, or water from a utility to any person, firm, or corporation or any lamp, burner, orifice, faucet, or other outlet whatsoever, without such service being reported for payment or such electricity, gas, or water passing through a meter provided by the utility and used for measuring and registering the quantity of electricity, gas, or water passing through the same.

(c)  Use or receive the direct benefit from the use of a utility knowing, or under such circumstances as would induce a reasonable person to believe, that such direct benefits have resulted from any tampering with, altering of, or injury to any connection, wire, conductor, meter, pipe, conduit, line, cable, transformer, amplifier, or other apparatus or device owned, operated, or controlled by such utility, for the purpose of avoiding payment.

(3)  The presence on property in the actual possession of a person of any device or alteration which affects the diversion or use of the services of a utility so as to avoid the registration of such use by or on a meter installed by the utility or so as to otherwise avoid the reporting of use of such service for payment shall be prima facie evidence of the violation of this section by such person; however, this presumption shall not apply unless:

(a)  The presence of such a device or alteration can be attributed only to a deliberate act in furtherance of an intent to avoid payment for utility services;

(b)  The person charged has received the direct benefit of the reduction of the cost of such utility services; and

(c)  The customer or recipient of the utility services has received the direct benefit of such utility service for at least one full billing cycle.

(4)  Any person who willfully violates this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083

(5)  Whoever is found in a civil action to have violated the provisions hereof shall be liable to the utility involved in an amount equal to 3 times the amount of services unlawfully obtained or $1,000, whichever is greater.

(6)  Nothing in this act shall be construed to apply to licensed and certified electrical contractors while performing usual and ordinary service in accordance with recognized standards.

History.--s. 1, ch. 76-64; s. 1, ch. 78-262; s. 7, ch. 79-163; s. 1, ch. 79-294; s. 1, ch. 86-173; s. 191, ch. 91-224; s. 2, ch. 92-155.