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What is 'theft of services?'

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Connecticut has a multitude of laws regarding theft. Some deal with activities that many people may not consider "theft" in the traditional sense of taking an item that doesn't belong to you. For example, "theft of services" is a crime.

This involves intentionally avoiding paying for services rendered. This can include skipping out on the bill at a hotel or at a restaurant. (The latter is commonly known as "dine and dash.") It can also involve failing to pay a taxi fare or for any sort of public transportation.

While it may involve running away without paying, some people facing this charge are accused of using intimidation or deception to avoid payment or engaging in some sort of mechanical tampering.

We sometimes hear about people stealing cable or wi-fi. That could be considered a theft of utility service. This crime intentionally obtaining gas, water, electricity and telecommunications services without paying for them. Often this involves some sort of tampering with equipment or software. It may involve changing the settings on a meter that measures the use of a particular utility.

Some people may consider finding a way to get free service harmless, particularly if they believe that a provider charges too much. However, theft of services is not a victimless crime. Providers of these services can and do press charges.

If you find yourself charged with a theft of service crime, it's essential to seek legal guidance. If equipment was damaged in the process, you could face additional charges. An experienced Connecticut criminal defense attorney can help you present your side of the story and work to mitigate the harm to your future.

Source: Stop Theft Class, "Connecticut Theft and Shoplifting Classes," accessed Feb. 10, 2017

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