Oregon Supreme Court 04-15-10
Read the full article for details about the following new cases:
- Criminal Mischief III - Tampering or Interfering with Property
For the purposes of Criminal Mischief III, "tampering" requires conduct that alters, changes or rearranges property and "interfering" requires an adverse effect on the property's use. The statute contemplates more than mere meddling or unauthorized contact, even where the defendant intends to cause substantial inconvenience. Here, defendant was convicted of Criminal Mischief III for kicking the door of a police car. The appellate court affirmed, finding that "tampering or interference" meant any unauthorized contact with another person's property. The S.Ct. reverses and even gives some helpful examples:
Throwing a switch on a train track that could change the path of a train or opening a gate that blocks access to a forest service road is conduct that alters, rearranges, or changes property, and constitutes "tampering" with property. If done with the intent to cause substantial inconvenience, it constitutes third-degree criminal mischief. Similarly, mixing up library books and reshelving them out of order is an alteration and rearrangement of property and constitutes "tampering" with property. What constitutes tampering with property for purposes of ORS 164.345(1) may depend on the nature of the property: merely entering a "clean room" at a manufacturing facility for silicon wafers or touching a valuable painting with one's finger might constitute tampering, while the same conduct with respect to other property would not. The actus reus element of "tamper[ing] * * * with property" for purposes of third-degree criminal mischief may be easily met in many cases, but it requires some showing, beyond the intent to cause substantial inconvenience, of an appreciable physical change or rearrangement to property.