New York Theft of Services Frequently Asked Questions
Theft of services is a criminal offense involving obtaining services through an illegal means. Like larceny, robbery, and embezzlement, theft of services is a type of stealing. Unlawful activities that amount to theft of services include:
- Staying at a hotel and intentionally fail to pay
- Obtaining a service using a credit card that was stolen
- Using the bus, subway, train, taxi, or any other public transportation service without paying
- Obtaining service from a utility company or a telecommunication company by using a decoder or some other fraudulent means, or by using a cancelled access device.
- Accessing services without paying for them
Theft of services is a misdemeanor. This means that someone who is convicted may be sentenced to jail for up to a year. The sentence would likely include restitution, requiring the defendant to pay the victim for the losses suffered due to the theft. In addition, the defendant may be required to pay fines and fees.
If the defendant is a repeat offender, instead of being a misdemeanor the charge will be a class E felony. This means that the penalty will be more severe than if the charge was a misdemeanor. The sentence could include a prison term of up to 4 years, probation, restitution, fines, and fees.Are there any defenses to a theft of services charge?
The prosecutor has the burden of presenting evidence that the defendant committed the crime of theft of services. The defendant can refute the prosecutor’s case by presenting defenses. Common defenses include:
- Entitlement to the services. If the defendant was entitled to the services, then there was not theft. For example, if the defendant did in fact pay for the service, then the defendant would have been entitled to the services and there would be no theft.
- Lack of Intent to steal the services. If the defendant was under the impression that the service was free, or thought that another person had paid for the service, then there would have been no intent to steal the services. For example, friends dining in a restaurant each assumed the other had paid. Both walked out without having paid the bill. Both were arrested and charged with theft of service. They both may avoid conviction using the defense that they assumed the other had paid the bill
A misdemeanor or felony conviction for theft of service, will negatively impact your future. You may end up in jail, on probation, and will face fines and fees. You will also end up with a criminal record that may impact your ability to find work. If you are under investigation for theft of services, it is important that you have experienced representation. The skilled criminal attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have more than 2 decades of experience successfully representing clients in New York charged with felonies and misdemeanors. We can help. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients facing criminal charges in the following locations: Nassau County, Staten Island, Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Suffolk County, Queens, and Westchester County.