Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter II-A. Theft of Utility Service.


§ 22–3218.01. Definitions.

For the purposes of this subchapter, the term:

(1) “Company” means a person or enterprise engaged in the generation or distribution of natural gas or electricity.

(2) “Person” means any individual, corporation, company, association, firm, partnership, joint stock company, or other entity.


(Dec. 1, 1982, D.C. Law 4-164, § 118; as added June 12, 2003, D.C. Law 14-310, § 15, 50 DCR 1092.)

Editor's Notes

The provisions of D.C. Law 14-310 replaced the provisions of D.C. Law 13-281. D.C. Law 13-281 was ineffective because of a defective effective date clause for Title 22.

Delegation of Authority

Delegation of Authority Under D.C. Law 13-281, the “Abatement and Condemnation of Nuisance Property Omnibus Amendment Act of 2002”, see Mayor’s Order 2002-33, March 1, 2002 ( 49 DCR 1875).


§ 22–3218.02. Unlawful acts.

Unless a person shall be authorized, or employed by, a company engaged in the generation or distribution of natural gas or electricity, a person shall not willfully connect or disconnect an electrical conductor belonging to the company; make any connection with an electrical conductor for the purpose of using or wasting the electric current or gas; tamper with a meter used to register gas or current consumed; interfere with the operation of an electrical or gas appliance of the company; or tamper, or interfere, with the poles, wires, or conduits used by the company. Nothing in this section shall prevent the lawful governmental regulation of gas or electric companies or electricity suppliers, or their conductors, appliances, machinery, and poles.


(Dec. 1, 1982, D.C. Law 4-164, § 118a; as added June 12, 2003, D.C. Law 14-310, § 15, 50 DCR 1092.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 22-3218.03 and § 22-3218.04.


§ 22–3218.03. Presumptions and rebuttal evidence.

(a) The presence of a connection, wire, conductor, meter alteration, or any device which effects the diversion of electric current or gas without the current or gas being measured or registered by or on a meter installed by a company engaged in the generation or distribution of electricity or natural gas, whether on a single property or within a multiple-unit building or complex, shall constitute prima facie evidence of intent to violate § 22-3218.02.

(b) If a check or test meter installed or employed by a company engaged in the generation or distribution of electricity or natural gas shows that a person is using a larger amount of electricity than is registered on the meter installed by the company on the person’s premises for the purpose of registering the natural gas or electricity used by the person, and the company has verified that the meter is not malfunctioning, it shall constitute prima facie evidence that the unregistered current or gas has been wrongfully diverted by such person and shall constitute prima facie evidence of intent to violate § 22-3218.02.

(c) The presumptions created by this section may be rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence to the contrary that the person alleged to have violated § 22-3218a did not do so. If the person in actual possession of the property or unit has not received the direct benefit of the reduction of the cost in electric or gas services, the presumptions created by this section shall apply to the owner of the property or unit; provided, that the owner has received the direct benefit of unregistered services for at least one full billing cycle.


(Dec. 1, 1982, D.C. Law 4-164, § 118b; as added June 12, 2003, D.C. Law 14-310, § 15, 50 DCR 1092.)


§ 22–3218.04. Penalties for violation.

(a) A person who violates § 22-3218.02 shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon a conviction, shall be imprisoned for not more than 60 days, or fined, not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01, or both. In the case of a second or subsequent conviction, a person who violates § 22-3218.02 shall be imprisoned for not more than 180 days, or fined, not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01, or both.

(b) In addition to the criminal penalties in subsection (a) of this section, a person who is found to have violated § 22-3218.02 in a civil proceeding shall be liable to the company using or engaged in the generation or distribution of electricity or gas for restitution of the amount of any losses or damage sustained.


(Dec. 1, 1982, D.C. Law 4-164, § 118c; as added June 12, 2003, D.C. Law 14-310, § 15, 50 DCR 1092; June 11, 2013, D.C. Law 19-317, § 205(h), 60 DCR 2064.)

Effect of Amendments

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 19-317, in (a), substituted the first occurrence of “not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01” for “not more than $500”, and the second occurrence for “not more than $1,500”.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 205(h) of the Criminal Fine Proportionality Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-45, April 1, 2013, 60 DCR 5400, 20 DCSTAT 1300).

Editor's Notes

Applicability of D.C. Law 19-317: Section 401 of D.C. Law 19-317 provided that the act shall apply only to offenses committed on or after June 11, 2013.