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Hopatcong Theft of Services Attorneys

Criminal Lawyers with Extensive Experience Representing Clients Facing Theft of Services Charges in Belvidere, Vernon, Newton, Sussex and Warren County, NJ

Theft of Services Lawyers Warren County NJTheft of services encompasses many services, from utilities such as electricity and water to cable and streaming services.  Other services include public or private transportation, staying at a hotel or motel, dining at a restaurant or other eatery such as a coffee shop, computer services, online subscriptions, and many more. Any services that can be obtained in exchange for compensation can fall into this category.  Examples include beauty shops, dry cleaners, cleaning services, gym fees, and tutoring.  Any attempt to avoid paying by refusing to pay for services, tampering with meters or devices used to facilitate payment, or by other fraudulent means is considered theft of services.

If you or a family member is facing allegations of service theft in New Jersey, encompassing charges such as stealing gas, water, electricity, cable, or telephone services, our team of defense lawyers is ready to provide you with the support you need. We serve clients in places like Newton, Frankfort, Andover, Phillipsburg and similar towns in Sussex and Warren County. Do not hesitate to contact our office to discuss your case in a free and confidential consultation. You can contact us at 973-755-1695.

Exploring the Diverse Forms of Theft of Services in NJ

There are too many kinds of services to mention them all, but some are encountered more than others.  The familiar “dine and dash” is when diners eat and leave the establishment without paying.  This is done particularly when a restaurant is packed and the staff is busy.  Leaving a hotel or motel without paying is considered theft. Jumping metro turnstiles or manipulating fare card machines to obtain rail passes using altered credit cards or slugs instead of coins are also common.  The most common theft of this kind is tampering with meters for electrical, water, sewage, oil, or gas services. Jerry rigging wires from a neighbor’s cable service and hacking into their streaming services or internet signal are all theft of services.  Less common but also illegal are walking out without paying at salons, refusing to pay a babysitter or daycare, canceling a ride service such as Uber or Lyft while receiving the service, or abandoning a taxi without paying.  Not paying or paying only a portion for lawn care, remodeling jobs, pool care or construction, car or household repairs, and similar services is illegal.

When is the Term Theft of Services Applied?

Suppose a person knowingly obtains services only available through compensation and avoids payment through fraudulent means, deception, or threat, by mechanical or electronic devices, or by making fraudulent statements. In that case, it is considered theft of services, a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-8.

What Do Services Include?

Services include all public services such as telephone, gas, electricity, sewage, and water.  Telecommunication services such as cable, streaming, and satellite services, as well as using accommodations, ride services, car rentals, other transportation services, entertainment admissions, restaurants, and bar services without paying for them, is theft.  Receiving any service where compensation is expected once the service is obtained or completed and absconding or refusing to pay is theft of services.

The 5 Elements Required To Prove Theft of Services

The prosecution must prove 5 points beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction.  Firstly, the defendant obtained the services.  Secondly, the services were in exchange for financial compensation.  Next, the defendant knew that they had to pay for the services.  Also, the defendant used deception, threats, or other means to receive the services. Lastly, the defendant acted purposefully by deception, threat, or other ways not to pay.

Types of Services Charged under New Jersey Theft of Services Law

Stealing Utilities

The theft of utilities such as electricity, gas, and water services includes not only the actual theft of the product, if not the attempt to obtain the service by tampering with a meter (either adding a connection or disconnecting one) or using additional pipes or wires to gain access to the utility.  To be accused of theft of a utility, it is not necessary for any attempt to obtain the service sought after.  For example, if a neighbor hotwired their electrical cables to yours, but the design was faulty, they could still be charged with a crime for the attempt.

The elements of utility theft are tampering with the service, intending to manipulate or avoid measuring the service for billing purposes, tampering without permission, and tampering with the intent to commit fraud.

The charge for the theft of a public utility is based on the length of time of the offense.  Engaging in an attempt of obtain services illegally is a disorderly persons offense, but if there is theft of services, the charge could range between a 4th and 2nd-degree crime depending on the length of time the theft took place.

Illegally Accessing Cable Services

New Jersey law prohibits acquiring unauthorized cable services, including making or installing devices that provide free cable service.  The elements of the charge of theft of cable service are an intent to get cable without paying for it, tampering with or using devices that will provide cable for free, and using the company’s equipment (wires or boxes) to get free service.

Theft of cable services is usually a disorderly persons offense but can be increased up to a second-degree offense depending on the seriousness of the theft.  For example, if Mrs. Houzner’s nephew hooked up a series of wires to allow her access to her neighbor’s cable, the charge would likely be a disorderly persons offense.  However, if her nephew agreed to install equipment that would provide free cable to all of her neighbors in a 10-house radius, he could face anywhere from a 4th to a 2nd-degree charge.

Phone Service Theft

The manufacture, installation, or sale of an apparatus to obtain unauthorized phone service is also theft of services.  Cell phone technology has reached a point where more complex techniques are needed to prevent from being charged for phone use. Still, there are fraudulent claims regarding charges or leaving an open balance when the direct debit of an account results in a negative bank balance or the account is closed soon after purchase.

Theft of telephone and telecommunication services is a second or third degree crime, depending upon the dollar amount of the theft.

Need an Attorney for Theft of Services Charge Newton NJ

Possible Consequences of Theft of Services Charges in NJ by Dollar Amount

A second-degree felony is for theft of $75,000 worth of services. Its penalties are up to 10 years in prison, a $150,000 restitution, and a felony criminal record.  A third-degree felony is for more than $1,000 but less than $75,000, and it carries a felony criminal record, a fine of $15,000, restitution, and five years in prison.  A fourth-degree felony for theft between $200 and less than $1,000 is assigned.  Its penalties are a $10,000 fine, 18 months in prison, restitution, and a felony criminal record.  A disorderly persons offense is for less than $200 and carries a penalty of 6 months in jail, a criminal record, restitution, and a $1,000 fine.

Trust Our Phillipsburg Attorneys to Defend Your Theft of Services Case

The defense attorneys at our firm have extensive experience representing clients who have been accused of theft of services.  Being arrested for theft can be stressful and scary, but when you have the representation of an outstanding defense attorney, it can alleviate that fear and anxiety. We have the experience and knowledge to defend you for any criminal matters.  Our attorneys are outstanding negotiators and litigators.  We have years of experience in plea bargaining for a downgraded charge or even getting your charges dropped. Let us formulate your optimal strategy if you have been arrested for theft of services or any other criminal offense in Wantage, Greenwich, Mansfield, Hackettstown, Lopatcong and throughout Sussex County and Warren County. Call us at 973-755-1695 to arrange a free consultation.

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Our attorneys serve clients in Allamuchy, Andover, Belvidere, Frankford Township, Greenwich, Franklin Borough, Hackettstown, Hopatcong, Lopatcong Township, Newton, Mansfield Township, Sparta, North Warren, Vernon, Phillipsburg, Wantage, Pohatcong Township, Stillwater, Washington Borough, and throughout Sussex County and Warren County, New Jersey.


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