In Pennsylvania, there are several different types of theft charges. While theft by deception and theft by unlawful taking tend to address accusations of someone stealing physical property, theft of services deals with accusations that a person has received the benefit of someone else’s services without paying for it.
What does theft of services mean?
Pennsylvania defines theft of services as when a person takes the services of another without paying for it.
What constitutes theft of services?
Some examples of what constitutes theft of services in Pennsylvania include things like stealing cable (including accessing pay-per-view without paying for it), getting medical services without paying the doctor, and stealing cell phone service.
Is theft of services civil or criminal?
Technically, you can be sued civilly for theft of services and charged with a crime for theft of services. When someone takes something of value, whether it’s a physical product or a service, that person can always be sued civilly. While the civil action for theft of a physical item is called “conversion,” the lawsuit for theft of services would be an action for “unjust enrichment.” Unjust enrichment means that one person got something of value from someone else without being permitted to get it. If someone steals cable, they are getting entertainment without paying the cable company or content creators for it.
What is the penalty for theft of services in Pennsylvania?
The grading and penalty for theft of services in Pennsylvania depends on the value of the services stolen, whether other people were involved in the theft, and whether the incident can be considered part of a “course of conduct.”
- If the value of the service is $49.99 or less, the theft of services is cited as a summary offense and face up to 90 days in jail and a $300 fine.
- If the value of the service is between $50.00 and $199.99, the person can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor and face up to two years in jail or prison and a $5,000 fine.
- If the amount stolen is between $200.00 and $1,999.99, the person can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor and face up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
- If the service is worth at least $2,000.00 and no more than $99,999.99, then the person can be charged with a third-degree felony and face up to seven years in prison and a $15,000.00 fine.
- If the value of the service is between $100,000.00 and $499,999.99, the person can be charged with a second-degree felony and be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000.00 fine.
- If the value of the service is $500,000.00 or more, (that’s half of a million dollars or more), then the person can be charged with a first-degree felony and sentenced to up to 20 years in prison and face a $25,000.00 fine.