Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu

Product Tampering – Is It Illegal?


Game shows where contestants answer trivia questions, solve puzzles, or perform athletic feats may seem outdated, but the popularity of reality TV shows about people being horrible to each other never go out of style.  If you have no money and no time commitments this summer, you can easily pass the time watching YouTube videos of old reality TV shows in which people live in a house together, or otherwise live in close quarters, and things inevitably end up like an adult version of Lord of the Flies.  For the most part, television producers just sit back and collect their paychecks as the worst of human nature shows its face.  Psychological torture is the norm, and the producers don’t break up fistfights unless someone gets a serious injury.  Where the purveyors of hideous entertainment draw the line, though, is at tampering with other people’s food and personal care items.  When one housemate scrubbed a toilet with another housemate’s toothbrush, she did not get kicked out of the house, but the producers did throw away the contaminated toothbrush immediately and provide a new one from the contestant.  When you are not getting paid to behave as badly as possible, intentionally contaminating other people’s food and personal items in order to cause illness or injury can lead to felony charges.  Here, our Miami criminal defense lawyer explains Florida’s product tampering laws.

Florida Product Tampering Laws

The Florida Anti-Tampering Act imposes criminal penalties for intentionally tampering with food, drugs, personal care products, or their packaging with the intention of causing illness or injury or creating a risk of illness or injury.  If you get convicted of product tampering, it is a first-degree felony, whereas conspiracy to commit product tampering is a second-degree felony.  If someone dies or becomes seriously ill because of the product tampering, you could face additional criminal charges.

Possible Defenses to Product Tampering Charges

You cannot be convicted of a crime unless you plead guilty or a jury unanimously votes to find you guilty at trial.  The following are possible defenses to accusations of product tampering:

  • You are not the source of the contamination. The product was already contaminated before you ever came into contact with it.
  • The contamination was accidental. For example, a bottle of hand sanitizer in the trunk of your car accidentally got broken and leaked onto the groceries that were next to it in the trunk.
  • The person in the surveillance camera footage who appears to be tampering with the store products is not you.
  • The surveillance camera footage in fact shows you handling merchandise in the store, but does not clearly show you tampering with them. For example, it does not show you opening the packages and putting them back on the shelf, and it does not show you applying substances to the packages.

Man Charged With Product Tampering After Pouring Eye Drop Solution Onto Nephew’s Food

In December 2023, a man in Pinellas Park, Florida was arrested and charged with poisoning of food or water in connection with a product tampering incident.  The man went to a fast food restaurant and ordered several sandwiches to go.  When he received the order, he asked the cashier for a bottle of over-the-counter eye drops, which she provided, thinking that he wanted to use them in his eyes.  Instead, the man opened the bottle and then opened one of the sandwiches and poured eye drop solution on it.  When the employee asked what he was doing, he said that the sandwich was for his nephew, and he wanted to make his nephew sick.  He said that the eye drop solution would cause severe digestive upset but would not cause permanent harm.

The employee called the police, and when they arrived at the house where the defendant and his nephew lived, the nephew had only taken one bite of the sandwich, and he had not had any symptoms.  He refused medical treatment.  A police officer who spoke to the WFLA Channel 8 News website said that the family has a history of domestic disputes, and the police have been called to their residence on previous occasions.  No additional reports have been published about this case; unlike many domestic dispute cases, this one has witnesses who are not part of the family, which decreases the chances of the court dismissing the charges.

Contact Our Criminal Defense Attorneys

A South Florida criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are facing criminal charges for product tampering.  Contact Ratzan & Faccidomo in Miami, Florida for a confidential consultation about your case.




Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

© 2018 - 2024 Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC, Attorneys at Law. All rights reserved.
This law firm website and legal marketing are managed by MileMark Media.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.