Senate Bill 1090 — Critical infrastructure trespass

Phil Haunschild 2019 Senate bill ratings

Bill description: SB 1090 would establish a new crime for “impeding critical infrastructure” and would apply graduated penalties over criminal trespass.

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Does it directly or indirectly create or increase penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non-violent crimes? Conversely, does it eliminate or decrease penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non-violent crimes?

Under current law, Idaho primarily has two separate trespass statutes. The first is civil trespass, in which a person enters private property without the permission of its owner. Anyone who commits a civil trespass may be required to pay the owner a civil award of $500, or the amount of damages caused, in addition to any costs associated with investigating or taking the trespasser to court. Anyone who causes more than $1,000 in damages while trespassing can be liable to pay three times the amount of the damages to the owner, in addition to any attorneys fees and investigation costs.

The second category of trespass is criminal trespass, in which a person knowingly enters private property against the wishes of its owner and causes damage. A trespasser who causes less than $1,000 in damages can be charged with a misdemeanor, sentenced to six months in jail, and required to pay $500 to $1,000. A trespasser who causes more than $1,000 in damages can be charged with a misdemeanor, sentenced to six months in jail, and fined $1,500 to $5,000.

SB 1090 would establish a new provision under the criminal trespass statute for “critical infrastructure trespass.” A person could be charged with “impeding critical infrastructure if he intentionally or knowingly impedes the operations of a critical infrastructure facility in a manner not otherwise authorized by law.” Critical infrastructure facilities would include electrical equipment, transportation facilities, cell towers, or water storage facilities.

A person who commits this new crime could be charged with a misdemeanor, sentenced to up to six months in prison, and fined up to $1,000. A person who causes more than $1,000 in damages could be charged with a felony and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

In addition, a private organization that aids or abets an individual who impedes critical infrastructure could be subject to a $100,000 fine. The owner of the damaged facility could also take civil action against the organization, to recoup any damages suffered from the trespass, including lost profits.

SB 1090 would dramatically increase the non-restorative penalties for individuals who trespass against a select number of facilities, including increasing the penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony conviction and increasing the sentence from a maximum six months in jail to 10 years in prison.

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