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New York Penal Law § 165.15 – Theft of Services

Dedicated New York Criminal Defense Attorneys Standing up for the Rights of Good People Charged with Serious Theft Crimes

Theft of Services is a broadly-worded New York larceny crime that prohibits obtaining services without paying for them. The Theft of Services statute applies in a wide range of circumstances, discussed in more detail below. Theft of Services is either a Class A misdemeanor or a Class E felony, depending on the specific facts of the case.

The Elements of Theft of Services

Before a judge or jury can convict anyone of Theft of Services, the government must prove each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. In the case of Theft of Services, there are multiple ways to violate the statute.

  1. Obtaining services through the use of a stolen credit card;
  2. Failure to pay for lodging at a hotel, motel, tourist cabin or rooming house;
  3. Avoiding payment after using public transportation;
  4. Obtaining utility services without paying for them;
  5. Failing to pay for phone services by using a canceled or revoked card to pay;
  6. Tampering with a parking meter to get free parking;
  7. Bypassing a utility meter or otherwise tampering with utility equipment to obtain free services;
  8. Failing to buy admission to a movie or using a ski resort’s services without payment;
  9. Diverting labor paid for by another for your benefit;
  10. Using computer services or network services without rendering payment; or
  11. Refusing to pay for services rendered by a barber or beauty shop.

In most cases, this law covers situations where a person uses force, intimidation, stealth, deception, tampering or an unjustified refusal to pay for services that had already been rendered. To prove a case of Theft of Services, the prosecution must also establish that the defendant’s actions were intentional and not the result of an honest mistake.

Related Offenses to NY Penal Law § 165.15

Often, prosecutors bring Theft of Services charges along with one or more of the following:

  • Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree – NY Penal Law § 155.30
  • Grand Larceny in the Third Degree – NY Penal Law § 155.35
  • Grand Larceny in the Second Degree – NY Penal Law § 155.40
  • Misapplication of Property – NY Penal Law § 165.00
  • Unauthorized Sale of Transportation Services – NY Penal Law § 165.16
  • Unlawful Use of a Credit Card, Debit Card or Public Benefit Card – NY Penal Law § 165.17
  • Fraudulently Obtaining a Signature – NY Penal Law § 165.20
  • Fraudulent Accosting – NY Penal Law § 165.30
What Are the Defenses to Theft of Services?

There are several defenses to Theft of Services that can either reduce your sentencing exposure or result in the prosecution withdrawing the case against you or the jury returning a “not guilty” verdict. Of course, the specific defenses that are available in any given case will depend on the subsection under which you have been charged. However, some of the most common defenses include the following:

  • You lawfully withheld payment based on the alleged victim’s failure to provide the services they promised;
  • Your actions in failing to pay were accidental, such as you forgot to pay for a movie ticket before entering the theater; and
  • You honestly intended to pay but didn’t realize that the credit card you used was expired.
What Are the Penalties for Violating NY Penal Law § 165.15?

Theft of Services is generally graded as a Class A misdemeanor; however, in certain situations, the offense can be either a violation or a Class E felony.

Discuss the Allegations Against You with an Experienced New York Theft of Services Lawyer

If you were recently arrested and charged with Theft of Services, having a dedicated NY criminal defense attorney by your side can make the difference in your case. At Tilem & Associates, P.C., our dedicated theft crimes lawyers understand what it takes to raise doubt in even the toughest cases. We are immediately available to meet with you to get started working on a compelling defense to the charges you face. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call 877-377-8666. You can also reach us through our online contact form.

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