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Touching an assistive device without permission – is it a crime?

On Behalf of | Dec 7, 2023 | Criminal Law |

It’s easy to take daily life for granted, especially when you have full use of your body to move around, speak, hear and hold things. Persons with disabilities and the elderly struggle with even the simplest tasks due to their conditions. But thanks to assistive technology such as wheelchairs, prosthetics, hearing aids and other similar devices, even the most physically challenged persons can continue living their daily lives.

Understandably, these assistive devices are vital to their owners. Yet some would play cruel pranks and tricks on persons with disabilities and the elderly, taking away or hiding their assistive devices.

In Oklahoma, it’s a crime to touch another person’s assistive device with the intent to bully them. A conviction will lead to fines and jail time.

The intent to harass is a crime

Under state law, a person who touches any assistive device of another person without reasonable cause and with the intent to harass commits a criminal offense. The offense is a misdemeanor, which puts it on the same level as other misdemeanors such as shoplifting, vandalism, public intoxication, battery and simple assault.

Which assistive devices are covered by the law?

Oklahoma rules define an “assistive device” as any device that allows a person with a disability to communicate, see, hear or maneuver. This means that apart from power wheelchairs, voice command equipment and hearing aids, the law applies to even simple devices such as canes, crutches and toilet aids.

The penalties for touching an assistive device

If a court convicts a person of touching another’s assistive device intending to harass the latter, the person faces up to a year of imprisonment in a county jail or as much as $1,000 in fines. Alternatively, a judge may sentence the offender to serve jail time and pay the fine.

Touching an assistive device may sound like a harmless prank, but Oklahoma treats such malicious mischief seriously – so much that the state lists the offense together with other assault crimes. If you face charges for what you thought was a “funny joke,” consider consulting a legal professional. An attorney may be able to protect your rights in court and help with your case.