Theft of Services

A theft of service has a broad definition that can include or encompass many crimes and therefore, defenses. A theft of service can be someone who is knowingly avoiding payment for services they have already obtained. Theft of service is defined by Massachusetts state law, these laws vary by state, but generally they are defined by the crime as knowingly securing the performance of a service by deception or threat, diverting another's services to the actor's own benefit, or holding personal property beyond the expiration of rental period without consent of the owner. Authorities may assume that there is intent to avoid payment that they may assume under certain circumstances, such as failure to pay for an applicable rental charge within the required time period. Many states classify the crime as a misdemeanor or felony according to the value of the services that were stolen.

In the Commonwealth, the law requires that in order to find a defendant guilty, the prosecutor must be able to prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:
      (a) A person commits theft of services if
        1.    the person obtains services, known by that person to be available only for compensation, by deception, force, threat, or other means to avoid payment for the services;
        2.    having control over the disposition of services of others to which the person is not entitled, the person knowingly diverts those services to the person's own benefit or to the benefit of another not entitled to them; or
        3.    the person obtains the use of computer time, a computer system, a computer program, a computer network, or any part of a computer system or network, with reckless disregard that the use by that person is unauthorized.
      (b) Absconding without paying for hotel, restaurant, or other services for which compensation is customarily paid immediately upon the receiving of them is prima facie evidence that the services were obtained by deception.
      (c) A person may be prosecuted for theft of cable, pay television or other telecommunications services.

Massachusetts thefts of service cases require the skill of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.  It is easy for innocent people to be charged with this crime if they simply forget to pay for a service or don’t realize that they need to pay for the service. For example, if the defendant is in a service contract and they misread the contract’s payment plan they can potentially be charged with this crime.

Boston, Massachusetts Theft of Services Crimes Criminal Defense Attorney


Courts view theft crimes seriously since the true costs of the thefts are often borne by other consumers in the form of higher premiums.  In Massachusetts, therefore it is crucial that you obtain the best legal counsel when facing a charge such as Theft of Services. The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy has nineteen years of successful experience defending clients facing an array of theft related property crimes. Attorney Murphy is a highly resourceful and intelligent Boston-area defense attorney who has built a successful and reputable career vigorously defending his clients. For a free and confidential legal analysis, contact the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy by calling 617-367-0450 or submitting the online contact form directly to Attorney Murphy. 
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