A theft of service charge can cover a range of crimes, from skipping out on a restaurant bill, failing to pay for a hotel stay, stealing cable or tampering with your gas meter in order to get free service. This charge is a misdemeanor and a violation of penal code 165.15 in New York state, and being arrested for this charge can carry with it some serious penalties. This can be for something as simple as stealing cake toppers, or ditching a cab fare.
Queens theft of service lawyers know that this crime is no laughing matter. If you jumped out of a cab without paying, hopped the turnstile in the train station or used a credit card that you knew was stolen, you can be facing jail time and fines. The penalty for this crime is up to a year in jail, but the majority of first time offenders are unlikely to face this sentence. The biggest concern is having a misdemeanor conviction on your record that can make it harder for you to get a job or be employed in certain fields. A misdemeanor conviction can also make it hard for you to rent an apartment or hold certain professional licenses.
You can also be found guilty of theft of services if you use public utilities that you are not entitled to. If you owe a balance on your cable service and use a fake name to open a new account, you could be charged with theft of service. Theft of service is an “A” Misdemeanor in New York, and you can face up to a year in jail if you are convicted.
If You Have Been Arrested for Theft of Service
The first thing to do when you are arrested is to stop talking. Don’t admit fault, apologize or start trying to explain yourself. Anything you say can be used to convict you in court. The second thing you should do is to call your attorney. He will speak on your behalf and ensure that the police do not have any statements that can incriminate you. While your lawyer may not be able to get you released from jail if you’re being detained, he can argue that you should be released on your own recognizance when you go before the judge at your arraignment. If you do not have an attorney, you can call one and have him meet you at the police station or at the courthouse before you see the judge.
Consequences to a Theft of Service Conviction
There are several ways your case can be resolved. First, you can be found guilty, sentenced to jail time and fined. Alternatively, the court can allow you to plead guilty to a lesser offense, often disorderly conduct, and dismiss your case. It is helpful to remember, however, that this charge can still show up in background checks, so it can hinder you from getting a job or obtaining specific licensing. Finally, you can provide a reasonable defense, be found not guilty and walk away with no blemishes on your record. TO do this, you will need a skilled attorney who can prevent a convincing defense to the charge.
Defenses to Theft of Service
A skilled attorney can argue that your theft of the service was unintentional or that there was a misunderstanding. If you were in a cab and realized that you had forgotten your wallet when it was time to pay, you could argue that your theft was unintentional. Perhaps you exchanged contact information with the cab driver so that you could pay him later. Was the credit card machine not working? Perhaps there was a minor accident in the cab and you jumped out in fear before you could pay. There are many defenses that you can use to this charge, but you will need a skilled attorney to present them to the court on your behalf.
Perhaps your dinner bill came out to more than you expected, or you left home without your wallet and decided to “dine and dash.” Maybe you thought it would be harmless to use a fake account to avoid paying for cable. If you have been arrested for Queens theft of service, do not delay. You will need an attorney who can fight for your rights and your freedom.