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You could go to jail for dining and dashing in New Jersey

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

In New Jersey, theft of services refers to the act of obtaining services by deception, threat or some other dishonest means. This can include a wide range of activities, from dining and dashing at a restaurant to using a fake identity to avoid paying for utilities.

It is a criminal offense and can lead to serious legal consequences.

Common examples of theft of services

Theft of services can occur in many forms. Some common examples include using a taxi service without compensating the driver and illegally tapping into cable or internet services. It also covers more complex situations, such as evading tolls or using false information to get utilities connected.

Legal consequences

Theft of services charges in New Jersey depend on the value of the services stolen. If the value is less than $200, it is a disorderly person’s offense. Conviction can result in a fine of up to $1,000 and possible jail time of up to six months. For services valued between $200 and $500, it is a fourth-degree crime, which may lead to a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of up to 18 months.

When the value of the services is between $500 and $75,000, it becomes a third-degree crime. This level of offense can result in a fine of up to $15,000 and a prison sentence ranging from three to five years. If the value exceeds $75,000, it is a second-degree crime, which carries the harshest penalties, including a fine of up to $150,000 and a prison term of five to 10 years.

Important considerations for defendants

The legal system takes these offenses seriously. The consequences can affect future employment opportunities, financial stability and personal freedom.

Defendants should know that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused intended to avoid payment for the services. Intent is a critical component of this crime. If the defendant can show no intention to deceive or avoid payment, it may be possible to challenge the charges.

A conviction for theft of services can have lasting effects. Taking the charges seriously is important for anyone facing such accusations.