Did you know that Maryland’s theft laws make it illegal to receive services from a business or entity without providing compensation? In other words, engaging a company for their services and not paying for what you obtain is a crime.
Theft of services falls under Maryland’s general theft laws. The repercussions of a conviction can impact your life significantly.
What are some examples of this offense?
Theft of services occurs when someone obtains valuable services through deception, force, threat or other unlawful means and does not provide compensation. For example, someone might eat at a restaurant and leave without paying for their food.
Other examples include:
- Illegally diverting WiFi or cable services to a residence
- Adjusting an electric or gas meter to decrease the amount owed on utility bills.
- Riding public transportation without buying a ticket or paying the fee
- Staying at a hotel or similar hospitality service and leaving without paying the bill
You could also face charges if you forge an invoice or bill to trick a provider into believing you paid for their services.
What are the possible penalties?
The potential consequences largely depend on the value of the services stolen. Stealing services worth less than $1,500 may be charged as a misdemeanor, but anything more will likely lead to felony charges. A conviction could mean years of imprisonment and orders to remunerate the harmed parties.
If you’re facing this charge, you may believe that your situation is hopeless, but it doesn’t have to be. With experienced legal guidance, you can explore your options and protect your rights.