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Theft: Not Just for Property

Previously we wrote on the concept of theft and the many laws tied to theft. As you may now know, the various forms of theft can largely be affected by the nature of what is being stolen. This is especially true of property since the value of the property may be able to either increase or decrease the punishments associated with its theft. However, you may be surprised to learn that other factors can affect the type of theft you are charged with.

Theft of Services

While property value may impact theft crimes, you do not necessarily need to steal property to be charged with theft. In fact, New Jersey law accounts for instances when services can be stolen from another party. According to New Jersey Criminal Code 2C:20-8, theft of services occurs when a person obtains services through deception, threat, or by false token, or other means. The term services seems fairly broad, but it can be inferred that most things which are not considered property fall into the category of services.

Recently the Bergen Dispatch covered two incidents in which truck drivers were charged with theft of services after driving through the toll plaza on the George Washington Bridge without paying. Jasur Muhtoruv was pulled over after going through the toll without paying. Afterward, police also noted the tape placed on his license plate. The tape was meant to make a reading of his license plate more difficult, which made sense after police discovered Muhtoruv owed over $900 in outstanding violations. Similarly, Juan Campo Villada was pulled over after not paying at the toll plaza.

Theft by Deception

What you steal can impact your charges, but the way in which you steal something can also mean that you incur additional charges. This is the impetus for the law concerning theft by deception. New Jersey Criminal Code 2C:20-4 includes purposefully obtaining the property of another person through deceptive means. An example of this practice came up on NJ.com, in an article talking about contracting scams. According to the article, Richard P. Farrant and Richard C. Farrant, father and son, were charged with theft by deception after allegedly taking $5,000 from a woman for the purposes of completing a roofing job. However, the pair never showed up to perform the job. It became clear then that the two were previously charged with theft by deception after cancelling a contract, without providing notice to another party.

Hiring Counsel

In terms of affecting you, charges of theft of services or theft by deception are not something you want to deal with. With that said, these charges are defendable. Many people drive through tollways unintentionally without paying. If you can show that you not being able to pay was not purposeful, then this may be a valid defense. In a similar fashion, theft by deception is also a purposeful crime. You must intend to fraudulently steal from someone to be convicted of theft by deception. This is why an experienced criminal law attorney will be able to help you build a defense against these charges. To defend your case you need an attorney like Phillip J. Murphy to help you with your claim. Phillip J. Murphy is licensed to practice in New Jersey and has been practicing law since 1989. Contact us today to discuss your options.

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