Title 18, United States Code, Section 1362 is an expansive statute designed to protect any part of a communications system, including its transmission lines, that is either operated or controlled directly by the United States, and it protects any part of a private communications system that is used or is intended to be used by the United States for military or civil defense functions. United States v. Turpin, 65 F.3d 1207, 1211-12 (4th Cir. 1995). This section forbids three distinct types of actions against such communications systems: (1) willful or malicious destruction; (2) willful or malicious injury; and (3) willful or malicious obstruction, hindering or delay of transmissions through the system. Additionally, this statute protects communications systems under construction from actual or attempted injury or destruction. Section 1362 is a specific intent crime requiring the government to prove willful or malicious intent. While the government must establish proof that the victimized communication system is either government controlled or carries or is intended to carry military or civil defense information, it should be argued that the required government ownership or military or civil defense nexus is merely a "jurisdictional fact," and that the government is not required to prove that defendant was aware of the protected nature of the communications system. Cf. United States v. Feola, 420 U.S. 671 (1975); United States v. LaPorta, 46 F.3d 152 (2d Cir. 1994). Section 1362 carries a penalty of imprisonment up to ten years, a fine of up to $250,000, or both. See 18 U.S.C. §§ 3559(a), 3571.
[cited in JM 9-66.500]