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The Law Offices of Proetta & Oliver

Hudson County

Criminal Defense Lawyer

"We have successfully defended our clients against thousands of Criminal, DWI, and Municipal Court charges throughout Hudson County and New Jersey."

- William A. Proetta, Esq.

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Theft of Services 2C:20-8a

Theft of Services Attorney in Jersey City

Theft of services is a very common crime in New Jersey and can involve a number of different circumstances ranging from a disorderly persons offense for not paying your path train fare to a second degree indictable crime for not paying tens of thousands in EZPass tolls. Prosecutors normally take these crimes very serious especially where the alleged victim is a government entity such as Port Authority, New Jersey Turnpike or NJ Transit. Moreover, because these crimes involve theft and defrauding there can be substantial restitution (money that needs to be paid back) which can quickly amount to thousands more than the original theft when they include additional late fees, monetary penalties, and fines. Our New Jersey theft attorneys are well versed in defending clients against theft of services charges and will fight to obtain a complete dismissal, downgrade to an ordinance or secure your admittance into a diversion program such as Pre-Trial Intervention. If you have been charge with theft of services or a related crime of theft by deception it is important that you contact an experienced criminal lawyer to defend you. To learn more about how we may be able to help you, contact our office today for a free and confidential consultation.

What Are the Penalties for Theft of Services?

Just like most theft crimes in New Jersey, the penalties for theft of services depend on the amount of goods or services that were stolen.

Disorderly Persons Offense Theft of Services

This involves less than $200 in services stolen. This charge can carry up 6 months in county jail if convicted, although that is rare if you have no prior criminal record. This criminal offense is handled in the local municipal court of the town or city where the services were taken.

4th Degree Theft of Services

This crime involves more than $200 but less than $500 in services taken. If convicted, you could face up to 18 months in state prison but there is no presumption of prison if you do not have a prior record. Fourth degree indictable offenses and above are all handled at the Superior Court in the county in which the crime took place.

3rd Degree Theft of Services

The amount of services taken through deception is more than $500 but less than $75,000. If you are convicted of this level of offense you could be sentenced to state prison for 3 – 5 years. However, the good news is that there is no presumption of state prison if you do not have a prior criminal record. 3rd degree crimes are probably the most common level of theft offenses we see because of the wide range of money that it includes.

2nd Degree Theft of Services

The amount of services taken was $75,000 or more. This is the most serious level of theft offense and can carry a mandatory state prison sentence of 5 – 10 years even if you have never been in trouble before in your life.

What Does the Prosecutor Need To Prove To Convict You of Theft of Services?

State must prove that defendant’s conduct was purposeful – it was defendant’s purpose to obtain the services without paying compensation.

The state must prove five elements.

  1. First, defendant obtained the services.
  2. Second, services were available only for compensation.
  3. Third, defendant knew that the services were available only for compensation.
  4. Fourth, defendant obtained the services by deception, threats or some other fraudulent means.
  5. Fifth, defendant purposely obtained the services by means of deception, threat or other means to avoid payment.

New Jersey Law for Theft of Services 2C:20-8

For your reading convenience we have provided the applicable law for theft of services under N.J.S.A. 2C:20-8, in pertinent part, below:

a. A person is guilty of theft if he purposely obtains services which he knows are available only for compensation, by deception or threat, or by false token, slug, or other means, including but not limited to mechanical or electronic devices or through fraudulent statements, to avoid payment for the service. “Services” include labor or professional service; transportation, telephone, telecommunications, electric, water, gas, cable television, or other public service; accommodation in hotels, restaurants or elsewhere; entertainment; admission to exhibitions; use of vehicles or other movable property. Where compensation for service is ordinarily paid immediately upon the rendering of such service, as in the case of hotels and restaurants, absconding without payment or offer to pay gives rise to a presumption that the service was obtained by deception as to intention to pay.

b. A person commits theft if, having control over the disposition of services of another, to which he is not entitled, he knowingly diverts such services to his own benefit or to the benefit of another not entitled thereto.

c. Any person who, without permission and for the purpose of obtaining electric current, gas or water with intent to defraud any vendor of electricity, gas or water or a person who is furnished by a vendor with electric current, gas or water:

(1) Connects or causes to be connected by wire or any other device with the wires, cables or conductors of any such vendor or any other person; or

(2) Connects or disconnects the meters, pipes or conduits of such vendor or any other person or in any other manner tampers or interferes with such meters, pipes or conduits, or connects with such meters, pipes or conduits by pipes, conduits or other instruments–is guilty of a disorderly persons offense.

d. Any person who, without permission or authority, connects or causes to be connected by wires or other devices, any meter erected or set up for the purpose of registering or recording the amount of electric current supplied to any customer by any vendor of electricity within this State, or changes or shunts the wiring leading to or from any such meter, or by any device, appliance or means whatsoever tampers with any such meter so that the meter will not measure or record the full amount of electric current supplied to such customer, is guilty of a disorderly persons offense.

e. Any person who, with intent to obtain cable television service without payment, in whole or in part, of the lawful charges therefor, or with intent to deprive another of the lawful receipt of such service, damages, cuts, tampers with, installs, taps or makes any connection with, or who displaces, removes, injures or destroys any wire, cable, conduit, apparatus or equipment of a cable television company operating a CATV system; or who, without authority of a cable television company, intentionally prevents, obstructs or delays, by any means or contrivance, the sending, transmission, conveyance, distribution or receipt of programming material carried by equipment of the cable television company operating a CATV system, is a disorderly person.

f. Any person who purposely or knowingly manufactures, constructs, sells, offers for sale, distributes or installs any equipment, device or instrument designed or intended to facilitate the interception, decoding or receipt of any cable television service with intent to obtain such service and avoid the lawful payment of the charges therefor to the provider, in whole or in part, is a disorderly person.

g. Any person who purposely or knowingly maintains or possesses any equipment, device or instrument of the type described in subsection f. of this section or maintains or possesses any equipment, device or instrument actually used to facilitate the interception, decoding or receipt of any cable television service with intent to obtain such service and avoid the lawful payment, in whole or in part, of the charges therefor to the provider, is a disorderly person.

h. Any person who, with the intent of depriving a telephone company of its lawful charges therefor, purposely or knowingly makes use of any telecommunications service by means of the unauthorized use of any electronic or mechanical device or connection, or by the unauthorized use of billing information, or by the use of a computer, computer equipment or computer software, or by the use of misidentifying or misleading information given to a representative of the telephone company is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

i. Any person who purposely or knowingly manufactures, constructs, sells, offers for sale, distributes, installs, or otherwise provides any service, equipment, device, computer, computer equipment, computer software or instrument designed or intended to facilitate the receipt of any telecommunications service and avoid the lawful payment of the charges therefor to the provider, in whole or in part, is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

j. Any person who purposely or knowingly maintains or possesses any equipment, device, computer, computer equipment, computer software or instrument of the type described in subsection i. of this section, or maintains or possesses any equipment, device, computer, computer equipment, computer software or instrument actually used to facilitate the receipt of any telecommunications service with intent to obtain such service and avoid the lawful payment, in whole or in part, of the charges therefor to the provider, is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

Arrested for Not Paying Light Rail Ticket in Hoboken, NJ

Our Hudson County theft attorneys have represented dozens of clients over the years who were arrested for theft of services for not paying their light rail fare or path train ticket while travelling through Hudson County, New Jersey in towns such as Hoboken, Jersey City, Harrison, Weehawken, and Secaucus. Hudson County is one of the busiest centers for public transportation in our state because of its close proximity to New York City and every day thousands of people travel on its system including the light rail, path train, and NJ transit buses and trains. With this many people using public transportation every day, mistakes are bound to happen and our attorneys often find ourselves representing several clients throughout the year for theft crimes related to not paying for train or bus fare or even running through tolls without paying. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today for a free consultation.