Theft of Services

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What Is Theft of Services?

Theft of services is a type of crime where someone obtains the services of someone else through unlawful means. This includes using force, threats, or knowingly entering into an agreement for services with no intent to pay for them. Most commonly, it involves an individual diverting services that someone else paid for without providing that person with compensation.

What Are Some Examples of Theft of Services?

Diverting WiFi Internet connections and cable television services are perhaps the most common forms of theft of services. This may involve either not paying for the services once they have been provided, or installing hardware to illegally reroute the services to one’s residence. Either way, these may be violations of the law. 

Other examples of theft of services include:

Other similar crimes may be considered theft of services, such as altering a gas or electric meter in order to pay less on monthly utility bills. 

What Are the Penalties for Theft of Services?

Theft of services usually leads to misdemeanor criminal charges. Misdemeanors are generally punished by criminal fines and possible jail time. However, repeat theft offenses can lead to increased penalties, including felony charges, which involve stricter criminal consequences. If the theft of services is over a certain amount, usually more than a thousand dollars, the crime may constitute grand theft, which is a felony charge.

Furthermore, the victim of the theft may be able to pursue civil charges against the defendant to recover damages for their losses.

Are There Any Defenses to Theft of Services Charges?

Defenses to theft of services can involve many similar defenses to property theft, but they also may be different. Below are two common defenses. 

Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer?

Due to the complex nature of criminal defense and how technical theft charges can be, it will be necessary to hire a criminal defense lawyer. An experienced attorney in your area will be able to guide you through the legal process, and can help raise the appropriate defenses for your situation. 

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Last Modified: 05-29-2014 04:45 PM PDT

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