Theft of Services & Restaurants: NY PL 165.15(2)

Sometimes referred to as “dine and dash,” if you steal food, meals or drinks from a restaurant or bar, the police will likely arrest you for New York Penal Law 165.15(2), Theft of Services. Not generally charged as either a Petit Larceny or Grand Larceny, criminal defense lawyers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and municipalities outside the city routinely find clients charged with this class “A” misdemeanor by way of an Appearance Ticket. These arrests occur after an accused either intentionally leaves before paying a waitress or bartender or because they don’t have the cash or credit card to pay for the rendered services. Even if later exonerated, the mistake rectified, or the establishment made whole, a PL 165.15 charge can be more than just a mere headache or hinderance.

Elements of the Crime

If you intentionally avoid paying for services provided at a restaurant because you unjustifiably refuse, “sneak” out without paying, or make some other misrepresentation, then you are guilty of this misdemeanor.

Penalty and Punishment

The likelihood of being incarcerated upon conviction is little to none assuming you have no prior record and you make the restaurant, bar or other business whole. However, because it is a class “A” misdemeanor, a conviction does expose you to jail in a county or local facility for as long as one year. Not mandatory as a matter of law, a judge does have the right or ability to sentence you to something far less or even community service, probation or some other condition. Again, making the establishment whole and paying restitution is almost always a part of any disposition.

Collateral Issues

As a fraud related crime, a conviction for Theft of Services is likely a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude or CIMT. Even if merely arrested and charged, must you indicate as such pursuant to question 14B(1)(b) on the FINRA U4? Similarly, what are your reporting requirements to other professional certifying organizations or if, for example, you work for the NYC Department of Education or similar government agency? Simply, know that secondary ramifications can complicate your case even if it is resolved to your liking within the criminal justice system.

Hypothetical and Example

You and some buddies decide to get some drinks and good eats after work. Around the corner from your office is a great place you’ve been to a couple of times. After you pop a couple of beers and maybe a shot of whiskey, you figure you’ll sneak out without paying because you have been waiting to even up with a bartender or waitress who, in your opinion, is far too slow. Alternatively, you go to pay, and you don’t have enough money to cover the bill because your friends left you high and dry. While this latter scenario may not be a crime as your intent was never to “dine and dash,” you may nonetheless find yourself charged in both situations, fingerprinted and sent home with a Desk Appearance Ticket to return to court at a later date.

Your Case, Your Defense, Your Future

Is it possible that you intended to pay for your hamburger, wings and those three microbrews? Did you really lose your wallet? Not that it is a defense by itself, but were you intoxicated? No matter the allegations, was it your intent to all along to pay for the services? Ultimately, your counsel will implement the strongest defense the evidence will support to either challenge the evidence and accusations or mitigate your conduct. If handled properly, what was a potentially damaging arrest can be minimized and your career, licensing and immigration status, to name just a few collateral issues, will remain as viable as it was before your misstep.

When you face prosecution because of a mistake or misunderstanding, know that just as frightening and real an adverse outcome can be, the advocacy, experience and knowledge of Crotty Saland PC’s criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors can alleviate your concerns and navigate you through the justice system to the proper and just end you need.

Don’t double down on your mistake or misunderstanding. Get the help you need and start moving your life in the right direction.

Call the New York criminal lawyers and former Manhattan Assistant District Attorneys at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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