Queens Theft of Service Lawyers – Your Guide to Fighting Charges
Getting charged with theft of services in Queens can be scary and overwhelming. However, with an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side, you can fight the charges and protect your future. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about theft of services charges in Queens, potential defenses, and how a knowledgeable lawyer can help.
What is Theft of Services?
Theft of services refers to obtaining services without paying for them, through deception, threat, mechanical tampering, or other fraudulent means. Common examples include:
- Fare evasion on public transportation like the subway or bus
- Dining at a restaurant and leaving without paying (“dine and dash”)
- Using a stolen credit card
- Stealing cable TV or utilities like electricity or water
- Gaining entry to a concert or event without a valid ticket
Theft of services is a crime under New York Penal Law 165.15 and can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances. Even first-time offenses can carry up to a year in jail.
Why You Need an Attorney
Theft of services charges should never be taken lightly. A conviction can damage your reputation, immigration status, and job prospects. An experienced lawyer understands how to navigate the complex New York criminal justice system and build the strongest defense for your unique situation.
A knowledgeable Queens theft of services attorney can:
- Review the details of your case and determine if the charges are valid
- Identify any procedural errors, like an unlawful search or lack of Miranda rights
- Challenge any weak spots in the prosecution’s argument
- Present evidence and witnesses that support your innocence
- Negotiate with the prosecutor for reduced charges or dismissal
- Guide you through the legal process and protect your rights
Don’t leave your future up to chance. An attorney levels the playing field against the prosecution.
Common Defenses Against Theft of Services Charges
Skilled lawyers utilize a range of defenses to fight theft of services allegations, including:
Lack of Intent
If there’s no evidence you deliberately intended to avoid payment, then you lacked the criminal intent required for a theft conviction. For example, forgetting your wallet or misunderstanding payment policies could show lack of intent.
Duress or Coercion
If you can demonstrate you acted under significant pressure or threats, it may establish a duress defense. The coercion prevented you from forming criminal intent.
If the prosecution has the wrong person, identity should be challenged. Eyewitness misidentification is a common contributor to wrongful convictions.
How evidence was obtained matters. Violations of your rights, like an unlawful search, could make key evidence inadmissible and result in dismissed charges.
What to Expect at Trial
If a plea deal can’t be reached through your attorney’s negotiations, theft of services charges could go to trial. What you can expect:
- Opening Statements: The prosecution and defense outline their core arguments. Your lawyer emphasizes your innocence.
- Prosecution’s Case: Prosecutors call witnesses and present evidence trying to prove your guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
- Cross-Examination: Your attorney questions prosecution witnesses, poking holes in testimony and discrediting evidence.
- Defense’s Case: Your lawyer presents witnesses and evidence that support your innocence and refute the charges.
- Closing Arguments: Final chance for both sides to argue why the jury should rule in their favor based on trial evidence.
- Verdict: The jury or judge decides if you are guilty or not guilty of the theft charges. Not guilty verdicts avoid conviction.
A seasoned lawyer intimately understands trial strategy and how to craft the strongest case for acquittal.
Consequences of a Conviction
The penalties for a theft of services conviction depend on the degree of the charges and your criminal record, but can include:
- Up to 1 year in jail for a misdemeanor
- Up to 4 years in prison for a felony
- Fines up to $5,000 plus restitution
- Probation or community service
- Permanent criminal record
The consequences extend beyond court penalties as well. A conviction can severely limit job opportunities, professional licensing, and college admissions. Non-citizens may face immigration issues like deportation.
Finding the Right Queens Theft of Services Lawyer for You
If you’re facing theft of services charges in Queens, the stakes are high. Don’t settle for just any attorney. You want a lawyer with specific experience successfully defending theft of services cases in Queens courts.
Look for a lawyer who:
- Focuses specifically on criminal defense law
- Has represented clients facing similar charges
- Understands the Queens criminal justice system
- Has a track record of positive case results
- Makes you feel comfortable and supported
- Is affordable and upfront about fees
A theft conviction can follow you for life. An experienced Queens theft of services attorney can help you avoid that fate. Don’t go it alone against the Queens DA’s office. Schedule a consultation today.