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New York Penal Law § 145.45: Tampering with a Consumer Product in the First Degree

New York Penal Law § 145.45: Tampering with a Consumer Product in the First Degree

Many products in stores have special caps and seals that prevent tampering. This practice dates back to the 1980s after the Tylenol murders; in 1982, seven people in Illinois died after taking capsules that had been laced with cyanide. Investigators later determined that the bottles must have been opened on store shelves, laced with poison and resealed.
As a result of these murders, tamper-evident technology was developed, and now, tampering with a product in the store is considered a crime.

Tampering any product that is meant to be consumed or applied to an external surface is subject to criminal charges. Willfully opening, altering and/or contaminating a food, beverage, medication or other product intended for human consumption or application is illegal and falls under New York Penal Codes § 145.40 and § 145.45.

Tampering With a Consumer Product in the Second Degree

If you tamper with a product that injures another human being and/or poses a significant risk to another person’s well-being, you can be charged with tampering with a consumer product in the second degree. This charge differs from the first degree in that the alteration does not create a substantial risk for other people.

The intent to cause physical injury is the most definitive factor in both degrees, though first degree tampering results in a circumstance that poses serious risk to the health of individuals.


Sarah has worked at a daycare for the last six months. She doesn’t like the new assistant she’s been assigned to work with and decides she will get her sick to avoid having to work with her for a few days. While the assistant is busy tending to the children, Sarah sneaks her unopened, pre-packaged salad of the fridge and sprays it with the cleaning solution kept under the sink.

The new assistant falls violently ill and nearly dies from her injuries. Lab reports identify the cleaner from the daycare, which is ultimately traced back to Sarah, who was caught on camera. She is charged with tampering with a consumer product in the second degree as she not only opened and altered a food product but also did so with the intent of causing physical harm to the assistant.


Finding a defense for criminal consumer tampering is difficult as in most cases, there is no way to deny that one didn’t alter the product or food with the intention of harming someone. If someone can demonstrate they never intended for someone to consume the product, they may be able to have the charges dropped. However, in most cases, a valid defense against the charge is difficult to prove as the substances involved in tampering are typically harmful in nature.

Jail Sentence

Tampering with a consumer product in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor. A judge may sentence individuals up to a year in prison, but in some cases, a person can receive three years of probation instead. If you are charged with this crime, you may also be required to pay a fine.

Are you being charged with criminal tampering?

If you are facing charges of criminal tampering in the second degree, contact a criminal defense attorney today. Working with a defense lawyer can help you formulate a valid defense argument. When you work with a lawyer, you have the opportunity to reduce your sentence or possibly have charges dropped altogether. A licensed New York criminal defense attorney will offer you a free consultation, and many lawyers also work pro bono to save you the expense of paying for services during your trial.

Contact a lawyer today in order to learn about your defense options against your criminal tampering charges.

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