Oceanport NJ Theft of Services Defense Attorneys
Although “theft” may seem rather self-explanatory, a charge of this kind in New Jersey can mean many different things. In fact, there are a host of specific theft charges that are differentiated based on the type of property stolen (i.e. movable property), the manner in which the property was stolen (i.e. deception), or the venue in which the theft took place (i.e. shoplifting in retail establishments). The degree of these charges also range significantly, from disorderly persons offenses which are relatively minor crimes to second-degree indictable felonies, which can result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years. The estimated value of the stolen property is often used to determine the degree of a theft charge, while in certain circumstances such as auto theft, the degree of the crime is the same regardless of the value of the stolen vehicle. Overall, understanding the specific theft crime for which you are accused is the first step toward developing an effective defense strategy.
If you have been charged with theft of services, it is first important to grasp what may constitute a service. Under New Jersey law, a “service” can represent any number of accessible things, ranging from utilities such as gas and electric to transportation via taxi or train, lodging in hotels, food in restaurants, or entertainment such as concerts or festivals. The underlying necessary element that the State must establish in order to prove this charge is that you obtained a service that required payment without compensating the service provider. Many times, theft of services occurs when a person gains access to cable television service by branching from another person’s provider without obtaining their own from a cable company. In contrast to many theft charges, theft of services is frequently graded as a disorderly persons offense, with enhanced charges typically issued when several acts of theft of services occur in the same way over a period of time.
If you have been charged with a theft crime in Hazlet, Holmdel, Howell, Long Branch, Manalapan, Manasquan, or elsewhere in Monmouth County, Chamlin, Uliano & Walsh has been advocating for people in this precarious situation for over 50 years. With extensive knowledge and experience, our attorneys have successfully resolved countless cases of this kind for clients in similar circumstances. Led by Certified Criminal Trial Attorney and former Monmouth County Prosecutor Charles J. Uliano, our criminal defense team is dedicated to positioning each and every client for the best possible outcome. To discuss your case with one of our skilled defense attorneys, contact our Asbury Park or West Long Branch offices anytime at 732-440-3950 or call toll free at 888-328-9131.
Theft of Services in New Jersey: N.J.S.A. 2C:20-8
Section N.J.S.A. 2C:20-8 of the New Jersey Criminal Code outlines crimes that constitute theft of services, stating the following:
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.
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.
“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.
Penalties for Theft of Services in New Jersey
Unlike many other theft crimes in New Jersey, theft of services is ordinarily classified as a disorderly persons offense, which is a relatively low-level criminal offense adjudicated at the municipal court located in the municipality in which the alleged offense occurred. Disorderly persons offenses may result in a sentence to serve up to 6 months in the county jail, a maximum fine of $1,000, and a charge on your criminal record. Theft of services also entails a restitution component, meaning a person convicted of this crime must pay restitution to the vendor from which the services were stolen. In determining the amount of restitution, the court will evaluate the costs expended by the vendor, including, but not limited to, the repair and replacement of damaged equipment, the cost of the services unlawfully obtained, investigation expenses, and attorney fees. In addition, the defendant must pay a minimum fine of $500 for each offense for which they are found guilty.
It is important to note that in some cases, the State can elect to aggregate the amounts associated with multiple thefts and levy one charge against the defendant. In other words, the prosecutor can sum up the amounts associated with a number of thefts if he or she believes that you are responsible for each of them. In order to justify aggregation, the State must identify and establish a “course of conduct,” meaning one or more acts that exhibit a similar pattern of behavior. If the charges are, in fact, aggregated they may be significantly enhanced, increasing the potential penalties accordingly.
Lastly, theft crimes fall within the category “crimes of moral turpitude,” which means that a conviction may spell negative implications for your immigration status if you are not a permanent U.S. citizen.
Monmouth County NJ Theft of Services Lawyers for Answers
With the consequences of a theft conviction hanging over your head, it is essential to mount an aggressive and comprehensive defense. Our criminal defense attorneys have addressed theft charges from both sides of the legal aisle, allowing us to investigate these cases from every angle in order to ensure that our clients are thoroughly protected. With a rich tradition in Monmouth County, we pride ourselves on serving and advocating for members of our community. Contact our offices anytime for additional information. Simply call 732-440-3950 or toll-free at 888-328-9131 today.