Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 18.2. Crimes and Offenses Generally
Chapter 5. Crimes Against Property
6/24/2021

Article 8. Offenses Relating to Railroads and Other Utilities.

§ 18.2-153. Obstructing or injuring canal, railroad, power line, etc.

If any person maliciously obstruct, remove or injure any part of a canal, railroad or urban, suburban or interurban electric railway, or any lines of any electric power company, or any bridge or fixture thereof, or maliciously obstruct, tamper with, injure or remove any machinery, engine, car, trolley, supply or return wires or any other work thereof, or maliciously open, close, displace, tamper with or injure any switch, switch point, switch lever, signal lever or signal of any such company, whereby the life of any person on such canal, railroad, urban, suburban or interurban electric railway, is put in peril, he shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony; and, in the event of the death of any such person resulting from such malicious act, the person so offending shall be deemed guilty of murder, the degree to be determined by the jury or the court trying the case without a jury.

If any such act be committed unlawfully, but not maliciously, the person so offending shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony; and in the event of the death of any such person resulting from such unlawful act, the person so offending shall be deemed guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

Code 1950, § 18.1-147; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15.

§ 18.2-154. Shooting at or throwing missiles, etc., at train, car, vessel, etc.; penalty.

Any person who maliciously shoots at, or maliciously throws any missile at or against, any train or cars on any railroad or other transportation company or any vessel or other watercraft, or any motor vehicle or other vehicles when occupied by one or more persons, whereby the life of any person on such train, car, vessel, or other watercraft, or in such motor vehicle or other vehicle, may be put in peril, is guilty of a Class 4 felony. In the event of the death of any such person, resulting from such malicious shooting or throwing, the person so offending is guilty of murder in the second degree. However, if the homicide is willful, deliberate, and premeditated, he is guilty of murder in the first degree.

If any such act is committed unlawfully, but not maliciously, the person so offending is guilty of a Class 6 felony and, in the event of the death of any such person, resulting from such unlawful act, the person so offending is guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

If any person commits a violation of this section by maliciously or unlawfully shooting, with a firearm, at a conspicuously marked law-enforcement, fire, or emergency medical services vehicle, the sentence imposed shall include a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of one year to be served consecutively with any other sentence.

Code 1950, § 18.1-152; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1990, c. 426; 2004, c. 461; 2005, c. 143; 2013, cc. 761, 774; 2015, cc. 502, 503.

§ 18.2-155. Injuring, etc., signal used by railroad.

If any person maliciously injure, destroy, molest, or remove any switchlamp, flag or other signal used by any railroad, or any line, wire, post, lamp or any other structure or mechanism used in connection with any signal on a railroad, or destroys or in any manner interferes with the proper working of any signal on a railroad, whereby the life of any person is or may be put in peril he shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony; and in the event of the death of such person resulting from such malicious injuring, destroying or removing, the person so offending shall be deemed guilty of murder, the degree to be determined by the jury or the court trying the case without a jury. If such act be done unlawfully but not maliciously the offender shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, provided that in the event of the death of any such person resulting from such unlawful injuring, destroying or removing, the person so offending shall be deemed guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

Code 1950, § 18.1-153; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15.

§ 18.2-156. Taking or removing waste or packing from journal boxes.

If any person shall willfully and maliciously take or remove the waste or packing from any journal box of any locomotive, engine, tender, carriage, coach, car, caboose or truck used or operated upon any railroad, whether the same be operated by steam or electricity, he shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.

Code 1950, § 18.1-151; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15.

§ 18.2-157. Injury to fences or cattle stops along line of railroad.

Any person who shall willfully or maliciously cut, break down, injure or destroy any fence erected along the line of any railroad for the purpose of fencing the track or depot grounds of such road, or shall break down, injure or destroy any cattle stop along the line of any railroad, shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.

Code 1950, § 18.1-155; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15.

§ 18.2-158. Driving, etc., animal on track to recover damages.

If any person, with a view to the recovery of damages against a railroad company, willfully ride, drive, or lead any animal, or otherwise contrive for any animal to go, on the railroad track of such company, and such animal is by reason thereof killed or injured, he shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.

Code 1950, § 18.1-154; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15.

§ 18.2-159. Trespassing on railroad track.

Any person who goes upon the track of a railroad other than to pass over such road at a public or private crossing, or who willfully rides, drives or leads any animal or contrives for any animal to go on such track except to cross as aforesaid, without the consent of the railroad company or person operating such road, shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor. A second violation of the provisions of this section occurring within two years of the first violation shall be punishable as a Class 3 misdemeanor. A third or subsequent violation of the provisions of this section occurring within two years of a second or a subsequent violation shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. This section shall not apply to any section of track which has been legally abandoned pursuant to an order of a federal or state agency having jurisdiction over the track and is not being used for railroad service.

For purposes of this section, track shall mean the rail, ties, and ballast of the railroad.

Code 1950, § 18.1-148; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1993, c. 845.

§ 18.2-160. Trespassing on railroad trains.

If any person, not being a passenger or employee, shall be found trespassing upon any railroad car or train of any railroad in this Commonwealth, by riding on any car, or any part thereof, on its arrival, stay or departure at or from any station or depot of such railroad, or on the passage of any such car or train over any part of any such railroad, such person shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.

Code 1950, § 18.1-150; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15.

§ 18.2-160.1. Boarding or riding transportation district train without lawful payment of fare; penalty.

A. It is unlawful for any person to board or ride a train operated by, or under contract with, a transportation district created pursuant to the Transportation District Act of 1964 (§ 33.2-1900 et seq.) of Title 33.2 when he fails or refuses to pay the posted fare published by the transportation district, or fails to properly validate a train ticket of the transportation district. A violation of this subsection continues from the point of boarding through termination of the train's scheduled trip. Any person who violates the provisions of this subsection is subject to a civil penalty of $100.

B. It is unlawful for any person to board or ride a train operated by, or under contract with, a transportation district created pursuant to the Transportation District Act of 1964 (§ 33.2-1900 et seq.) of Title 33.2 with a validated ticket and to willfully use the ticket outside the designated zone of the paid ride. A violation of this subsection continues throughout the time that such ticket is used outside the designated zone of the paid ride. Any person who violates the provisions of this subsection is subject to a civil penalty of $100.

C. It is unlawful for any person to board or ride a train operated by, or under contract with, a transportation district created pursuant to the Transportation District Act of 1964 (§ 33.2-1900 et seq.) of Title 33.2 when he uses a fraudulent or counterfeit ticket as a means to evade payment of the posted fare published by the transportation district. A violation of this subsection continues from the point of boarding through termination of the train's scheduled trip. A violation of this subsection is punishable as a Class 2 misdemeanor with a fine of not less than $500 for a first violation and with a fine of not less than $750 for a second or subsequent conviction when the second or subsequent conviction occurs more than 24 hours after but within 365 days of a prior violation.

D. Any person who has been convicted of violating subsection C shall be civilly liable to the Commonwealth and the transportation district for all costs incurred in prosecuting such person. The costs shall be limited to actual expenses, including the base wage of one employee acting as a witness for the Commonwealth and suit costs, but the total costs recovered shall not exceed the maximum amount of the fine that may be imposed for the offense.

1988, c. 762; 1991, c. 241; 2009, c. 760; 2010, cc. 445, 837; 2012, c. 676.

§ 18.2-160.2. Trespassing on public transportation; penalty.

Any person who enters or remains upon or within a vehicle operated by a public transportation service without the permission of, or after having been forbidden to do so by, the owner, lessee, or authorized operator thereof is guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.

"Public transportation service" means passenger transportation service provided by bus, rail or other surface conveyance that provides transportation to the general public on a regular and continuing basis.

2007, c. 461.

§ 18.2-160.3. Fare enforcement inspectors; failure to produce proof of payment of fare; penalty.

A. For the purposes of this section, "eligible entity" means any transit operation that is owned or operated directly or indirectly by a political subdivision of the Commonwealth or any governmental entity established by an interstate compact of which Virginia is a signatory.

B. Any eligible entity that either directly or by contract operates any form of mass transit may appoint fare enforcement inspectors and establish the qualifications required for their appointment. Fare enforcement inspectors shall have the power to (i) request patrons at transit boarding locations or on transit vehicles to show proof of payment of the applicable fare; (ii) inspect the proof of payment for validity; (iii) issue a civil summons for violations authorized by this section; (iv) assist with crowd control while on a transit vehicle or at a transit boarding location; and (v) perform such other customer service and safety duties as may be assigned by the eligible entity. The powers of fare enforcement inspectors are limited to those powers enumerated in this section, and fare enforcement inspectors are not required to be law-enforcement officers. The powers of fare enforcement inspectors appointed pursuant to this section shall be exercisable anywhere in the Commonwealth where the appointing eligible entity operates transit service. Fare enforcement inspectors shall report to the department or agency designated by the appointing eligible entity.

C. It shall be unlawful for any person to board or ride a transit operation operated by an eligible entity when he fails or refuses to pay the applicable fare or refuses to produce valid proof of payment of the fare upon request of a fare enforcement inspector. Any person who violates this section shall be liable for a civil penalty of not more than $100. Any person summoned for a violation may make an appearance in person or in writing by mail to the department of finance or the treasurer of the locality, or the designee of the department of finance or the treasurer, where the violation occurred as specified on the summons prior to the date fixed for trial in court. Any person so appearing may enter a waiver of trial, admit liability, and pay the civil penalty established for the violation charged. Such persons shall be informed of their right to stand trial and that a signature to an admission of liability will have the same force and effect as a judgment of court. If a person charged with a violation does not elect to enter a waiver of trial and admit liability, the violation shall be brought by the eligible entity or the locality in which the violation occurred and tried as a civil case in the general district court in the same manner and with the same right of appeal as provided for by law. In any trial for a violation authorized by this section, it shall be the burden of the eligible entity or locality in which the violation occurred to show the liability of the violator by a preponderance of the evidence. The penalty for failure to pay the established fare on transit properties covered by another provision of law shall be governed by that provision and not by this section.

D. The governing bodies of counties, cities, and towns may adopt ordinances not in conflict with the provisions of this section to appoint fare enforcement inspectors and prescribe their duties in such counties, cities, and towns.

E. The penalty imposed by this section shall not apply to a law-enforcement officer while he is engaged in the performance of his official duties.

2014, cc. 281, 447; 2017, cc. 70, 548.

§ 18.2-161. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2004, c. 459.

§ 18.2-162. Damage or trespass to public services or utilities.

Any person who shall intentionally destroy or damage any facility which is used to furnish oil, telegraph, telephone, electric, gas, sewer, wastewater or water service to the public, shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony, provided that in the event that the destruction or damage may be remedied or repaired for less than $1,000 such act shall constitute a Class 3 misdemeanor. On electric generating property marked with no trespassing signs, the security personnel of a utility may detain a trespasser for a period not to exceed one hour pending arrival of a law-enforcement officer.

Notwithstanding any other provisions of this title, any person who shall intentionally destroy or damage, or attempt to destroy or damage, any such facility, equipment or material connected therewith, the destruction or damage of which might, in any manner, threaten the release of radioactive materials or ionizing radiation beyond the areas in which they are normally used or contained, shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony, provided that in the event the destruction or damage results in the death of another due to exposure to radioactive materials or ionizing radiation, such person shall be guilty of a Class 2 felony; provided further, that in the event the destruction or damage results in injury to another, such person shall be guilty of a Class 3 felony.

Code 1950, § 18.1-158; 1960, c. 358; 1964, c. 224; 1966, c. 446; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1980, c. 548; 1981, c. 197; 1985, c. 299; 1992, c. 352; 2018, cc. 764, 765; 2020, cc. 89, 401.

§ 18.2-162.1. Diverting wastewater line; diverting or wasting public water supply.

Any person who willfully and maliciously (i) diverts any public wastewater or sewer line or (ii) diverts or wastes any public water supply by tampering with any fire hydrant shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.

1980, c. 140; 1992, c. 352.

§ 18.2-163. Tampering with metering device; diverting service; civil liability.

A. Any person who (i) tampers with any metering device incident to the facilities set forth in § 18.2-162, or otherwise intentionally prevents such a metering device from properly registering the degree, amount or quantity of service supplied, or (ii) diverts such service, except telephonic or electronic extension service not owned or controlled by any such company without authorization from the owner of the facility furnishing the service to the public, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

B. The presence of any metering device found to have been altered, tampered with, or bypassed in a manner that would cause the metering device to inaccurately measure and register the degree, amount or quantity of service supplied or which would cause the service to be diverted from the recording apparatus of the meter shall be prima facie evidence of intent to violate and of the violation of this section by the person to whose benefit it is that such service be unmetered, unregistered or diverted.

C. The court may order restitution for the value of the services unlawfully used and for all costs. Such costs shall be limited to actual expenses, including the base wages of employees acting as witnesses for the Commonwealth, and suit costs. However, the total amount of allowable costs granted hereunder shall not exceed $250, excluding the value of the service.

Code 1950, § 18.1-158.1; 1966, c. 446; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1976, c. 273; 1978, c. 813; 1992, c. 525.

§ 18.2-164. Unlawful use of, or injury to, telephone and telegraph lines; copying or obstructing messages; penalty.

A. If any person commits any of the following acts, he is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor:

1. Maliciously injure, molest, cut down, or destroy any telephone or telegraph line, wire, cable, pole, tower, or the material or property belonging thereto;

2. Maliciously cut, break, tap, or make any connection with any telephone or telegraph line, wire, cable, or instrument of any telegraph or telephone company which has legally acquired the right-of-way by purchase, condemnation, or otherwise;

3. Maliciously copy in any unauthorized manner any message, either social, business, or otherwise, passing over any telephone or telegraph line, wire, cable, or wireless telephone transmission in the Commonwealth;

4. Willfully or maliciously prevent, obstruct, or delay by any means or contrivance whatsoever the sending, conveyance, or delivery in the Commonwealth of any authorized communication by or through any telephone or telegraph line, wire, cable, or wireless transmission device under the control of any telephone or telegraph company doing business in the Commonwealth;

5. Maliciously aid, agree with, employ, or conspire with any unauthorized person or persons unlawfully to do or cause to be done any of the acts hereinbefore mentioned.

B. If any person, with the intent to prevent another person from summoning law-enforcement, fire, or rescue services:

1. Commits any act set forth in subsection A; or

2. Maliciously prevents or interferes with telephone or telegraph communication by disabling or destroying any device that enables such communication, whether wired or wireless, he is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Code 1950, § 18.1-156; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 2002, cc. 810, 818; 2006, c. 457.

§ 18.2-165. Unlawful use of, or injury to, television or radio signals and equipment.

Any person who shall willfully or maliciously break, injure or otherwise destroy or damage any of the posts, wires, towers or other materials or fixtures employed in the construction or use of any line of a television coaxial cable, or a microwave radio system, or willfully or maliciously interfere with such structure so erected, or in any way attempt to lead from its uses or make use of the electrical signal or any portion thereof properly belonging to or in use or in readiness to be made use of for the purpose of using said electrical signal from any television coaxial cable company or microwave system or owner of such property, shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.

Code 1950, § 18.1-157; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15.

§ 18.2-165.1. Tampering with or unlawful use of cable television service.

Any person who (i) shall knowingly obtain or attempt to obtain cable television service from another by means, artifice, trick, deception or device without the payment to the operator of such service of all lawful compensation for each type of service obtained; (ii) shall knowingly, and with intent to profit thereby from any consideration received or expected, assist or instruct any other person in obtaining or attempting to obtain any cable television service without the payment to the operator of said service of all lawful compensation; (iii) shall knowingly tamper or otherwise interfere with or connect to by any means whether mechanical, electrical, acoustical or other, any cables, wires, or other devices used for the distribution of cable television service without authority from the operator of such service; or (iv) shall knowingly sell, rent, lend, promote, offer or advertise for sale, rental or use any device of any description or any plan for making or assembling the same to any person, with knowledge that the person intends to use such device or plan to do any of the acts hereinbefore mentioned or if the device or plan was represented either directly or indirectly by the person distributing it as having the ability to facilitate the doing of any of the acts hereinbefore mentioned, shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony if convicted under clause (ii) or (iv) above and shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor if convicted under clause (i) or (iii) above.

As used herein, cable television service shall include any and all services provided by or through the facilities of any cable television system or closed circuit coaxial cable communications system or any microwave, satellite or similar transmission service used in connection with any cable television system or other similar closed circuit coaxial cable communications system.

In any prosecution under this section, the existence on property in the actual possession of the accused, of any connection, wire, conductor, or any device whatsoever, which permits the use of cable television service without the same being reported for payment to and specifically authorized by the operator of the cable television service shall be prima facie evidence of intent to violate and of the violation of this section by the accused.

Nothing contained in this section shall be construed so as to abrogate or interfere with any contract right or remedy of any person having a contract with the owner of a television coaxial cable, or a cablevision system, or a microwave radio system.

1978, c. 712; 1979, c. 500; 1981, c. 197; 1991, c. 502.

§ 18.2-165.2. Unlawful interference with emergency two-way radio communications; penalty.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly and willfully (i) interfere with the transmission of a radio communication, the purpose of which is to inform or to inquire about an emergency or (ii) transmit false information about an emergency.

B. For the purposes of this section, "emergency" means a condition or circumstance in which an individual is or is reasonably believed by the person transmitting the communication to be in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm or in which property is in imminent danger of damage or destruction.

C. Any person who violates the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

1985, c. 100.

§ 18.2-166. Disclosing or inducing disclosure of certain information concerning customers of telephone companies.

Any person:

(1) Who is an employee of a telephone company, or an employee of a company which prints or otherwise handles lists of telephone customers for a telephone company and who discloses to another the names, addresses, or telephone numbers of any two or more customers of telephone service, knowing that such disclosure is without the consent of the telephone company furnishing said service; or

(2) Who knowingly induces such an employee to make such disclosure by giving, offering, or promising to such employee any gift, gratuity, or thing of value, or by doing or promising to do any act beneficial to such employee; or

(3) Who takes, copies, or compiles any list containing the aforesaid information knowing that such conduct is without the consent of the telephone company furnishing said service; or

(4) Who attempts, aids or abets another, or conspires with another, to commit any of the aforesaid acts,

shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.

Code 1950, § 18.1-417.1; 1968, c. 332; 1975, cc. 14, 15.

§ 18.2-167. Selling or transferring certain telephonic instruments.

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to make, sell, offer or advertise for sale, possess, or give or otherwise transfer to another any instrument, apparatus, equipment, or device or plans or instructions for making or assembling any instrument, apparatus, equipment or device which has been designed, adapted, used, or employed with the intent or for the purpose of (1) obtaining long distance toll telephone or telegraph service or the transmission of a long distance toll message, signal, or other communication by telephone or telegraph, or over telephone or telegraph facilities, without the payment of charges for any such long distance message, signal or other communication; or (2) concealing or assisting another to conceal from any supplier of telephone or telegraph service or from any person charged with the responsibility of enforcing this section, the existence or place of origin or of destination of any long distance toll message, signal, or other communication by telephone or telegraph, or over telephone or telegraph facilities. Persons violating any provision of this section shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.

(b) Any such instrument, apparatus, equipment or device, or plans or instructions therefor, may be seized by court order or under a warrant; and, upon a final conviction of any person owning the seized materials, or having any ownership interest therein, for a violation of any provision of this section, the instrument, apparatus, equipment, device, or plans or instructions shall be ordered destroyed as contraband by the court in which the person is convicted.

Code 1950, § 18.1-238.3; 1966, c. 445; 1975, cc. 14, 15.

§ 18.2-167.1. Interception or monitoring of customer telephone calls; penalty.

It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to intercept or monitor, or attempt to intercept or monitor, the transmission of a message, signal or other communication by telephone between an employee or other agent of such person, firm or corporation and a customer of such person, firm or corporation.

The provisions of this section shall not apply if the person, firm or corporation gives notice to such employee or agent that such monitoring may occur at any time during the course of such employment.

Any person, firm or corporation violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor. The provisions of this section shall not apply to any wiretap or other interception of any communication authorized pursuant to Chapter 6 of Title 19.2 (§ 19.2-61 et seq.).

1982, c. 380.