New York Penal Law 165.15 – Theft of Services: Potential Punishment & Collateral Consequences

Make no mistake about it. If you “dine and dash,” leave a Manhattan cab driver high and dry without paying, jump a turnstile in Brooklyn or even use cable without permission, you will be either arrested or issued a NY Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) for Theft of Services pursuant to New York Penal Law 165.15. If you are a New York City teacher or or any other person using a student or senior MetroCard, you will will face the same charge as well. Assuming you did not have permission to receive the services without paying, the conversation you have regarding Theft of Services (NY PL 165.15) with your New York criminal defense attorney or lawyer will be fairly simple. Not a DNA case, this crime is often summed up as either a misunderstanding between you and the victim or the result of a plainly stupid move on your part. The problem is, regardless of whether you were issued a New York Desk Appearance Ticket or arrested, if you are convicted of Theft of Services you will have a criminal record that will not be expunged or merely go away.

Potential Punishment & Collateral Consequences of Theft of Services (NY Penal Law 165.15)

An “A” misdemeanor, a conviction for Theft of Services or any crime will result in a criminal record. Compounding matters, a conviction for this offense is punishable by up to one year in prison. Having said that, practical punishment and potential punishment are not one in the same. Assuming the Theft of Services allegations does not include other crimes such as New York Grand Larceny, for example, defrauding the cab driver out of $10 or the restaurant out of $30 will not likely land you behind bars. Without other compounding factors, jail is not a usual outcome in New York City.

The greater issue, and one which often compels people to consult with experienced criminal defense attorneys in New York, is what will happen if you plea to a violation and thereby avoid a criminal record. In other words, if the District Attorney’s Office makes you an offer of a violation such as a Disorderly Conduct, is this a type of disposition that you should accept and, if so, are there any collateral consequences?

While each case is as unique as the individual accused of perpetrating the particular crime, collateral consequences can be devastating whether you are charged with Theft of Services (NY PL 165.15) in Queens, Shoplifting / Petit Larceny (NY PL 155.25) in Manhattan, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument (NY PL 170.20) in Brooklyn or any other offense. For example, are you required to report an arrest or a plea, of any type, to your employer? If so, what are the grounds for your dismissal? Must a conviction be that of a crime or will a violation also terminate your employment? Beyond your direct employer, are there certification or licensing requirements that require you to report a plea even if it is non criminal? If so, what, if anything, should you do?

Beyond the above mentioned issues, what will happen to your “record?” Will it remain blemish free and clean? While a plea to a Disorderly Conduct should be sealed, it is far from atypical to have these non criminal dispositions pop up on background checks. Not only is it possible that the violation will be revealed, but the underlying or original arrest charge of Theft of Services, Petit Larceny, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument or any other crime. The last thing anyone wants is to believe that the case has been resolved to later find out that their potential employer or licensing agency has found out about it and is questioning an arrest from years before.

While this blog entry is not a substitute for an in depth discussion with your New York criminal defense attorney, it should give you the foundation to have that conversation. Not only may you decide to discuss potential dispositions such as Disorderly Conduct, but the better option of an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal. Moreover, there may be both legal and procedural ways to beat the case and a plea is not something you should consider pursuing.

For further information such as criminal statutes and the New York Penal Law, legal decisions, legal analysis and newsworthy cases dealing with the crimes of Theft of Services (NY PL 165.15), Petit Larceny (NY PL 155.25), Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument (NY PL 170.20) and Desk Appearance Tickets, please review the New York Criminal Lawyer Blog at NewYorkCriminalLawyerBlog.Com and more specifically the topic areas of New York Theft Offenses, New York Fraud Related Offenses and New York Desk Appearance Tickets. Additional information can be found on the respective links for New York Desk Appearance Tickets and Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument on the Saland Law PC webpage and

The New York criminal defense lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at Saland Law PC represent individuals accused or and arrested for all crimes from Manhattan to Brooklyn, Queens to Westchester and the New York City region.

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