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Tampering with Consumer Products

Tampering with consumer products is one of the lesser known federal crimes with which a person can be charged, so defendants who are accused of this offense are often shocked by the allegations or were not even aware that their conduct was unlawful. Having the advice of an experienced federal crime attorney is critical in these cases, so if you are being investigated for taking part in a consumer product-related scheme, please call us today for a free case evaluation.

Prohibited Conduct

Federal law prohibits tampering or attempting to tamper with any consumer product that affects interstate or foreign commerce. In fact, this prohibition is not only limited to the products themselves, but also applies to the labels and containers of qualifying products, as federal law specifically makes it unlawful to tamper with the product labels or alter written information accompanying a product. Before a person can be convicted, however, prosecutors must demonstrate that:

  • The tampering was done with reckless disregard of the risk that someone else could be placed in danger; and
  • The tampering was done under circumstances that revealed an extreme indifference to the risk of bodily injury or death that could result.

Furthermore, the government must be able to establish that the product in question affects interstate commerce, which means that it was manufactured, being held for sale, distributed, or being prepared for the retail process. A number of courts have also grappled with what qualifies as “affecting interstate commerce,” with some coming to the conclusion that commerce is affected if the tampering in question led to a loss of sales by the seller. In fact, the law specifically excludes situations where a person is accused of tampering with a product once it has been purchased and brought into the home.

Who Investigates These Allegations?

Allegations of tampering with consumer products are investigated by a number of different agencies, including:

  • The FDA, which is responsible for allegations involving certain food items, cosmetics, drugs, and devices;
  • The FBI, which focuses on cases that involve life-endangering tampering and threatened tampering accompanied by an extortion demand; and
  • The Department of Agriculture, which has responsibility for cases involving meat, eggs, and poultry.

Regardless of the agency in question, it is critical for those who are being investigated for involvement in a tampering scheme to speak with an attorney as soon as possible about their charges.


The penalties for tampering with a consumer product are serious. In fact, merely attempting to tamper with a consumer product can lead to a ten year prison sentence. If, on the other hand, someone is injured as a result of the tampering, the sentence could be increased to 20 years. Tampering with a product’s label is considered less serious, so in most cases, defendants charged with this offense face a three year prison sentence and fines. Even placing a document, such as a notice, bill, or advertisement inside a container for a consumer product is punishable if the person in question did not obtain the consent of the manufacturer or retailer. Defendants convicted of this offense could spend up to a year in prison.

Call Today for a Free Case Evaluation

To speak with an experienced federal crime attorney about your own charges, please call Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. Criminal Defense Attorneys at (305) 670-9919 today. Our Miami legal team is eager to help you today.

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