Product Tampering Is a Federal Crime

product-tamperingEarlier this month, a young woman was filmed licking a tub of ice cream in a Lufkin, Texas Walmart before returning it to the freezer. Law enforcement officials were notified, and the girl has now been identified as a 17-year-old girl. Due to her age, she has been transferred to the juvenile justice system. That is a good thing. If tried as an adult, she would have faced federal charges of tampering with a consumer product. That is a charge that has a potential sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

Tampering with a Consumer Product

Many people do not realize that tampering with a consumer product is against the law. It is certainly not a federal crime that regularly makes the news. However, while some may think tampering with a product is an innocent prank, federal agencies see it quite differently.

Federal law prohibits tampering with a product, or even trying to tamper with a product. Even tampering with packaging or labels, or altering the written information on a consumer product, is considered illegal behavior. The law does not consider tampering with a consumer product to be against the law if the product has already been purchased and brought to someone’s home.

Proving a Tampering with a Consumer Product Case

There are several elements the prosecution must prove when trying a tampering with a consumer product case. They must show the tampering was done with reckless disregard for the safety of others. If someone else could have been harmed, injured, or killed as a result of the tampering, it helps the prosecution’s case.

The prosecution must also show the tampering affected interstate commerce. This means they must prove the product was manufactured, available for purchase, distributed, or was being prepared for retail. Some courts have defined ‘affecting interstate commerce’ as a loss of sales by the seller. That proof was evident in the current case, as the owners of Walmart had to throw out their entire stock of that particular ice cream.

Penalties for Tampering with a Consumer Product

The penalties for tampering with a consumer product vary depending on the type of tampering that was done. The penalties also depend on whether anyone was hurt as a result of the tampering.

Attempting to tamper with a consumer product is a serious crime that has a potential penalty of up to ten years in federal prison. If someone does tamper with a product and another person becomes hurt as a result, the maximum sentence could be up to 20 years in prison.

Tampering with a label is not considered as serious as tampering with the actual product. This crime typically has prison sentences of up to three years in prison. When a person places a document inside a container for a consumer product without the permission of the manufacturer, they could face up to one year in prison.

Even when the crime of tampering with a product is considered less serious, it still carries very harsh penalties. Those charged must speak to a federal criminal defense attorney that can help.

Call an Illinois Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

If you have been charged with tampering with a consumer product, or any other federal crime, it is essential that you speak to an experienced Chicago federal criminal defense attorney. At the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel, we know the federal justice system, and we know how to build defenses that are successful in court. Call us today at 312-270-0999 for your free consultation and learn more about how we can help with your case.

Sources:

https://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2019/07/05/texas-walmart-ice-cream-lick-back-on-shelf-vpx.cnn

https://www.justice.gov/jm/criminal-resource-manual-1449-tampering-consumer-product

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