Under what conditions can someone be charged with theft of services?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Under what conditions can someone be charged with theft of services?

My daughter and I were living in a hotel room after losing our home, and my husband, who was staying elsewhere, was supposed to be paying for it. The room was registered in my name with my driver’s license on file. As we continued to fall on hard times, our balance at the hotel reached $12,000. The manager threatened several times to have me arrested for theft of services but eventually kicked me out and off the property instead (about a year ago). Also, at the time the balance was around $9K, my husband surrendered the title to his truck as collateral for future payment. We are still in possession of the vehicle and the manager is still in possession of the title. Can I still be charged with theft?

Asked on December 31, 2015 under Criminal Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Criminal liability, as opposed to civil liability, is based on having a criminal intent: if you knew at the time that you were staying there that you would not pay (for any reason; including hard times) but, knowing that you would not pay, still took their services, then you would have had the requisite criminal intent and yes, that may well be theft of service and you could face criminal charges. You could also be sued for the money and, even if you can't pay it now, the judgment could be enforced against you for years to come, if you ever get into a better financial position.

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