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Theft of Services

The New York theft of services statute, New York Penal Law 165.15, prohibits stealing services like cab rides, uber rides, bus services, subway services, cable television; ripping off restaurants, hotels, and inns, using false credit cards, stealing utilities by tampering with meters; syphoning utilities like steam, gas, water, and electricity without permission of the supplier, evading payments for concerts and ski lifts, diverting the labor of people who are employed by others and financially gaining from their work, evading payment for internet or other computer programs, and evading payment at hair salons. The penalty varies based on the defendant’s conduct and subdivision of the statute that the defendant is accused of violating.

Call our experienced New York criminal defense lawyers, who are experienced in handling theft of services, today for a free consultation. We can help you to fight your charges.

The statute punishes the following conduct as a violation:

  • Theft of utility services by meddling, using a telephonic decrypter or some other device to divert telecommunications, or using any other gadget, or connivances to access the utilities without permission, and that theft does not exceed services valued at greater than $100.00, and the person accused has not been convicted of theft of services by the above specified means.
  • Theft of barber or hair salon services where the person has not been convicted of theft of barbershop or hair salon services in the past.

The statute punishes the following conduct as a class E felony:

  • Stealing phone service through a phone device, either by selling the device, offering it up to be sold, or generally making it available, where the phone device has a terminated or withdrawn contract, where the value of the service stolen exceeds $1000.00 and the person accused of the theft has been, in the past 5 years, previously convicted of stealing phone services through the sale of a phone device with a terminated or withdrawn contract.

All other conduct that is prohibited by New York Penal Law 165.15 is punishable as a class A misdemeanor.

This means that the maximum penalty for theft of services is 4 years in prison and a fine of $5,000.00 or double the amount of the ill-gotten gains made through commission of the crime.

In one case a defendant was arrested for theft of services while he was sitting in his car, for failing to pay a fee for parking. Despite the fact that failing to pay a parking fee justified arrest under Penal Law 165.15, refusing to pay for a limousine ride did not. In the case of the limousine, the prosecution argued that a limousine service should be considered a transit service for the benefit of the public and that refusing to pay for such a service violated Penal Law 165.15. The defense counter-argued that the limousine was in fact a private means of transportation.

Fare beating is possibly the most frequently punished conduct under Penal Law 165.15. It is a class A misdemeanor under subdivision 3 of Penal Law 165.15 to intentionally take the train, autobus, taxicab, or any other means of public transit without paying the fee. There are many forms of fare beating, but one of the most creative ones that has recently become popular is bending metrocards. When a metro card is bent in a particular way it fools the computer into not deducting the value placed on the card. Subway fare evaders that have sold swipes on their bent metrocards and been convicted of theft of services. Passing two people through a turnstile with one metrocard swipe is also a punishable conduct as well. Our experienced attorneys know how to fight theft of services charges for dodging subway fares.

Call our experienced New York theft of services attorneys today for a free consultation. Our lawyers have the experience, skill and knowledge to fight your criminal charges and obtain the best possible outcome.

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