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NY Penal Law 165 Theft of Services

In this post we’ll be continuing to look at various theft crimes, this time honing in on what’s considered to be theft of services. Let’s get started by looking at what theft of services is and how exactly you’d be considered guilty of it.

Theft of services.

To be guilty of theft of services, you’ll have to have obtained some kind of service, or try to induce the supplier of some kind of service to agree to payment on a credit basis by using a credit or debit card you know is stolen. Another way is if you avoided payment for a restaurant, hotel, motel, or a similar place, all with the intent to not pay. You can also be considered guilty of this crime if you try to use some sort of public transportation without paying, or if you avoid payment by force, intimidation, stealth, deception, or other similar ways of not paying.

Now that we’ve looked at some of the ways you can be charged with this crime when you refuse to pay for some kind of physical service, we’re going to take a look at theft of services in regards to utilities. This is done when you obtain or else attempt to obtain some kind of telecommunications, cable, gas, water, or other kind of service with the intent to avoid payment, and do this by either tampering with the equipment to make this happen or offer for sale some kind of telecommunications decoder or descrambler to break encryption in order to receive service without payment. You can also be guilty of this by misrepresenting facts, or through any other kind of trick or deception to make this happen. It’s important to note, though, that the telecommunications decoder or descrambler we’ve talked about doesn’t include any non-decoding and non-descrambling channel frequency converter that’s accepted by the FCC.\

Now in any prosecution for this specific crime, proof that the telecommunications equipment was tampered with without the consent of the supplier will be considered presumptive evidence that the resident has created this condition in order to defraud the supplier. Someone who tampers with this equipment without the consent of the supplier is presumed to have done so to avoid payment for this service. Also, in any of these prosecutions, proof that a decoder or descrambler was offered for sale will be presumptive evidence that the person obtained this service without the intent to pay.

But beyond just using devices that get past encryption in order to get services for free, there are some other ways that you can be considered guilty of theft of services. One way is to sell an existing/canceled access device. Another way is to use such a device, and another is to knowingly obtain a telecommunications service, with some sort of fraudulent intent, by using a false name or access device. Now device basically means any phone calling card number, credit card number, or other type of ID that can be used to get telephone service. Another way to be in violation of this law is if you tamper with some sort of meter in order to stop the meter from working properly without consent of the supplier. Proof that a meter has been tampered with is considered presumptive evidence that the person involved created a condition where they wouldn’t have to pay for services. Also, it’s safe to assume that someone who tampers with this device is doing so with the intent to avoid payment for the service involved.

But these aren’t the only ways you can be guilty of this crime. Another way is to knowingly accept some kind of gas, electricity, or other service that should go through a meter, without using the meter. Of course in any case involving this kind of thing, it’s presumptive evidence that the service has been diverted in an intentional way, or that the person intentionally tampered with equipment. But along with theft of services when it comes to utilities, you can also be considered guilty of this charge if you try to gain admission into a theatre or other similar place without paying/intending to pay.

Theft of services isn’t just limited to using utilities in an unauthorized way or sneaking into public transit or some kind of performance without paying. It’s also when you use the labor of someone else without paying, or even if you use some kind of computer service without the intention of actually paying to use it. At the end of the day, theft of services is considered a class A misdemeanor, provided that the theft of services wasn’t in excess of $100, and that you haven’t been previously convicted of theft of services.
So there you have it.


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"Spodek Law Group have offered me excellent support and advice thru a very difficult time. I feel I've dealt with someone who truly cares and wants the best outcome for you and yours. I'm extremely grateful for all the help Spodek Law Group has offered me. I can't recommend them..."

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