Theft of Utilities
Theft of Electricity, Theft of Water, Theft of Cable
Getting Back at the Utility Company
Over the years, consumers have taken a negative view toward utility companies’ efforts to increase their corporate profits. Their monopoly is often perceived as responsible for unreasonable rates and arbitrary fee increases. After all, no one has any great love for the phone company, the electric company, the water company or cable man. This unsympathetic attitude often leads to a theft of utilities. Individuals accomplish this by circumventing billings for their various utility services. They accomplish this by unlawful methods or devices in an effort to defraud or cheat the utility company.
The theft of utilities has caused companies to be vigilant and aggressive in uncovering fraud and prosecuting the theft. Sometimes the discovery of theft of utilities comes as a result of observations made by a utility company employee, while other times it might be reported by a neighbor. In either circumstance, law enforcement will more often than not be summoned to to the scene to investigate and pursue criminal charges.
Isn’t Theft of Utilities Just a Misdemeanor?
Yes. But a theft of utilities charge must be taken seriously. Although a theft of utilities charge may be prosecuted as a misdemeanor, it is still a “criminal offense” that will remain on your record for the rest of your life if you are convicted. In addition, because it is a criminal theft offense, there are several long-term ramifications that occur upon conviction.
Penalties for Theft of Utilities Offenses
- These are first degree misdemeanor offenses which are punishable by up to one year in the Pinellas County Jail and up to a $1,000.00 fine. See Florida Statute Section 812.14 and Florida Statue Section 812.15;
- This is a crime involving “dishonesty or untruthfulness” that can often cause potential employers to reject your application for employment for fear that your propensity for theft might carry over into the work place;
- The “dishonesty” or “untruthfulness” component of this offense is often a bar to obtaining a variety of occupational licenses. (Real Estate License, Building Contractor, Mortgage Broker, Stock Broker, etc.);
- If convicted of this offense, your credibility will be forever suspect in any future court proceedings since your opposition’s attorney will be permitted to ask you under oath “We have heard your side of the story, but isn’t it true you have been convicted of a crime involving untruthfulness or dishonesty?“
Given the serious life long potential consequences a conviction for theft of utilities will carry, it is important to speak timely with an experienced Pinellas County Criminal Defense Lawyer. The legal fees associated with representation for this offense may be less expensive that you think.
Possible Solutions to Your Theft of Electricity, Water or Cable Charges:
- We can carefully examine the evidence to determine if sufficient facts exist to enable the prosecutor to prove that you were the individual responsible for committing the theft;
- Your lawyer can scrutinize the lawfulness of the police investigation and determine whether the police lawfully entered your home or property;
- At times, we can intervene on your behalf with the prosecutor in an effort to persuade the State to drop the theft of utilities charge;
- We may be able to help you make application for participation in the (P.T.I.) “Pre-Trial Intervention Program.” Successfully completing this “diversionary” program will guarantee the dismissal of the charge;
- We may be able to demonstrate “mitigating” circumstances that could persuade the judge to conclude that you deserve a“withhold of adjudication” so as to avoid a formal conviction. Resolving your case by through a withhold of adjudication carries significant benefits. You would be legally allowed thereafter to truthfully state that you were not convicted of this theft related offense;
- At the conclusion of your case, we may be able to seal or expunge all of the records associated with your criminal arrest and subsequent prosecution in the Pinellas County Court system.
An Experienced St. Petersburg / Clearwater Lawyer Can Make a Difference
If you have been charged with the theft of electricity, theft of water or theft of cable services, we are criminal defense attorneys who can help. Don’t rely solely on the advice of friends or relatives.