You had a few too many drinks and refused to pay your bill at the diner or late night restaurant in Manhattan. You jumped a turnstile in Brooklyn because you though nobody was looking. Maybe you refused to pay your cab driver because he is driving you from NY to the Bronx to Queens and back to NY when you only needed to go to midtown. Believe it or not, your actions may land you either in jail or with a desk appearance ticket (DAT) for the misdemeanor crime of Theft of Services.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can tell you that things that seem to be merely a misunderstanding or a bone-headed move often result in criminal actions. Theft of Services, punishable by up to one year and jail, is one of those offenses. Although there are often legitimate and solid defenses to this crime that need to be explored, Theft of Services generally occurs where you obtain a service and do not pay for that service.
While Theft of Services is not a crime where the average person is likely to do any “time,” it is important to note that a skilled criminal defense attorney should be retained to make sure you do not become the exception. For example, a criminal defense attorney should review the complaint against you and make sure there is certain language. Specifically, there must be language specifying that you did not have “permission or authority” to obtain the service without payment. Failure to allege this in a complaint may result in your criminal defense attorney successfully arguing for dismissal. There is no reason to accept even a day of community service and a slap on the wrist if the case can be defeated on legal grounds.
Even assuming that a disposition can be reached, individuals who have certifications or go through background checks such as investment bankers, physicians, and teachers, may be concerned about any wrongdoing on their record regardless of how small it is. Therefore, it is important that you don’t let this misunderstanding or bone-headed move cause you any more problems and you retain criminal defense counsel to aggressively fight to prevent this from blemishing your clean record in anyway.
For further information on Theft Crimes in New York, including Shoplifting (New York Penal Law 155.25) and other crimes, please review the Theft Offense section of the New York Criminal Law Blog at NewYorkCriminalLawyerBlog.Com. Specific information on Theft of Services (New York Penal Law 165.15) and collateral consequences can be found through the highlighted link.