Theft Of Services
Scotch Plains NJ Theft Attorney
The charge of theft of services arises when the item allegedly stolen is personal services or utilities as opposed to property. Irrespective of the nature of the service provided, you need to keep in mind that this offense has the potential to result in serious penalties. For this reason, you should strongly consider contacting an attorney in our Union Office to learn your options. Marshall Bonus Proetta & Oliver is eight member criminal defense firm with over 100 years of combined experience handling theft of services charges filed in Cranford, Springfield, Union, Elizabeth, Roselle and other municipalities in Union County. Several lawyers on the staff also have the benefit of significant time learning how the court system works from the opposite perspective as prosecutors. If you would like to take advantage of a free initial consultation with a lawyer at the firm, call 908-272-1700.
Material Elements Of A Theft Of Services Offense
There are four (4) elements that must be established in order to prove a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-8 (“Theft of services”). First, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant purposely obtained the services of the victim. Second, the defendant knew that the services were only available for compensation. Third, the defendant obtained the services by deception (e.g. threat, fraud, false representation, etc.). Fourth, the defendant’s purpose in engaging in the conduct was to avoid payment.
- Definition Of Services Under 2C:20-8. “Services” include labor, professional services, transportation, telephone, telecommunications, electric, water, gas, cable television or other public service, accommodation in hotels, restaurants, or elsewhere, entertainment, admission to exhibits, use of vehicles or other movable property that are only available for compensation.
- Intent To Deprive. The accused must possess an intent to misappropriate the services of the victim. In other words, it was defendant’s purpose to obtain the services without paying the appropriate compensation.
- Presumptions Under This Law. If someone absconds after receiving a service that would normally be paid immediately after receipt, for example, eating at a restaurant or staying at a hotel, the law presumes that the accused lacked an intention to pay and obtained the services by deception.
Although there are a wide array of services that can potentially give rise to this form of theft charge, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-8 sets forth several of the more common varieties specifically.
Theft Of Utility Services
One of the most prevalent theft of service violations involves gas, electric, water or another utility service. In this regard, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-8 makes it a disorderly persons offense to obtain utilities fraudulently, including tapping into water or gas lines without permission, or splicing into electric service. What is pivotal in terms of a violation here is the intention to defraud, in other words, obtain the services without paying for them. The law in NJ presumes intent to defraud or steal when someone attaches a special device, disconnects, or diverts a connection around a water, gas or electrical meter.
Theft of Cable Services
Similar to utilities, it is illegal to tamper with cable lines, for example, those owned by Xfinity/Comcast, in order to secure service without paying. It is a disorderly persons offense to damage, tamper with, tap, displace, destroy or take similar action with respect to cable television equipment, apparatus, wires, etc., with intent to obtain cable television service without payment. Again, in order to be found guilty of this offense, the defendant must intend to obtain cable television service without compensating the cable company or the third party from whom they are diverting the service. The law presumes that this intend exists where any wire, cable, conduit, apparatus or equipment of the cable company has been either damaged, cut, tampered with, installed, tapped, been connected with, or displaced, removed, injured or destroyed.
Plainfield NJ Theft Lawyers
If you or your loved one was charged with stealing electric, gas water, water or cable service, or engaging in some other conduct to violate 2C:20-8 (“Theft of services”), Marshall Bonus Proetta & Oliver is here to fight for you. Our lawyers know what needs to be done to successfully avoid a conviction for theft of services at the Superior Court in Elizabeth or the municipal court of Linden, Westfield, Scotch Plains, Berkeley Heights & Hillside. We are prepared to review the facts of your offense, advise you as to the best course of action, and there is no cost to you for this discussion. An attorney is available immediately at 908-272-1700.