West Windsor NJ Theft of Services Attorney
With Offices in Trenton and Pennington, New Jersey
Theft of services is one of the most common theft crimes in New Jersey. Although it might not seem very serious at first glance, you can actually be arrested and charged with a felony for stealing utilities or cable. Even if you tried to lower your monthly bill by just a few dollars, you can be charged with a crime. Moreover, the penalties for theft of services can be severe because prosecutors will aggregate the total amount of the services and use the entire bill to determine the range of penalties. This means that if you are convicted of stealing cable service for an extended period of time, you could end up spending several years behind bars.
Kamensky Cohen & Riechelson has been defending clients against theft charges in Hamilton, Princeton, and everywhere else in Mercer County, NJ since 1972. Our attorneys understand the law and know what it takes to secure a win in the courtroom. Call KCR now to speak with a member of our litigation team and begin your defense.
N.J.S.A. 2C:20-8: Theft of Services in Mercer County NJ
Theft of services in New Jersey is governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:20-8. You can be charged with theft of services if you purposely obtain services by deception or threat, by false token or slug, or by other means.
The “services” that are covered by the statute include: cable television; telephone; telecommunications; utilities like electricity, gas, and water; labor or professional services; accommodation in hotels, restaurants, or anywhere else; entertainment; admission to exhibitions or events; and use of vehicles or other movable property.
Different provisions of the statute address specific types of theft, including the diversion of certain services:
- Electric, Gas, or Water Services: The statute prohibits anyone from tampering with or disconnecting a meter, connection, conduit, pipe, or wire for the purpose of obtaining electricity, gas, or water service. More generally, you cannot utilize any such device for the purpose of obtaining these utilities.
- Cable Services: The statute prohibits anyone from obtaining or benefitting from unauthorized cable service. It is also against the law to manufacture, sell, or install equipment or devices that are intended to facilitate unauthorized cable service.
- Telephone or Telecommunications Services: The statute prohibits anyone from obtaining or benefitting from unauthorized telephone or telecommunication service. It is also against the law to manufacture, sell, or install equipment or devices that are intended to facilitate unauthorized telephone or telecommunications service.
Penalties for Theft of Services in Trenton NJ
The penalties for theft of services are generally determined by the value of the services that were stolen. However, the statute also specifies penalties for theft of particular services:
- Theft of Electric, Gas, or Water Services: Initially classified as a disorderly persons offense, which is punishable by up to 6 months in county jail. However, if the theft continues for an extended period of time, you could be charged with a felony-level offense. The threshold for a felony-level offense is extremely low: theft of just $200 worth of utilities will result in fourth degree felony charges and a potential term of incarceration of 18 months in NJ State Prison.
- Theft of Cable Services: Initially classified as a disorderly persons offense, which is punishable by up to 6 months in county jail. However, the charge may be elevated to a felony-level offense under certain circumstances. Again, the grade of the charge – second degree felony, third degree felony, or fourth degree felony – will depend upon the total value of the service that was stolen.
- Theft of Telephone or Telecommunications Services: Initially classified as a third degree felony, which is punishable by 3–5 years in NJ State Prison. However, if the value of the telephone service that was stolen exceeds $75,000, the charge may be elevated to a second degree felony.
The court can also require you to pay restitution to the service provider. This restitution may include the cost of the service, the cost of repairing damaged equipment or devices, and the service provider’s attorney’s fees.
Related Offenses: Theft by Deception, Theft by Extortion, and Check Fraud
Additionally, a theft of services charge is often accompanied by charges of check fraud. If you write a bad check for a service that you received, you may be subject to severe penalties when the check bounces.
Contact a Lawrence NJ Theft of Services Lawyer
Kamensky Cohen & Riechelson is prepared to defend you against a theft of services charge. Call us today to discuss your case over the phone, or email us to schedule a free consultation at our Trenton or Pennington offices.