Subway Theft of Services and Fare Evasion Lawyer
More than eight million (8,000,000) people pour into New York City’s
mass transit system every day. Over six million people take the subway
during an average weekday. There are 469 subway stations, and over 14,000
bus stops serviced by over 5,700 public buses. The Metropolitan Transportation
Authority (MTA), created in 1965, is a public benefit corporation that
oversees New York City subway lines and buses.
The sheer volume and size of New York City’s public transportation
system makes it tempting to enter without paying. After all, how is the
NYPD supposed to check eight million people spread across hundreds of
train stations and thousands of bus stops to see if they paid? Additionally,
the MTA issues discounted student and senior MetroCards which can be used
improperly. In 2010, about 6.7 million bus riders rode on a MTA bus without
paying the fare costing the MTA over $8 million. According to a recent
Daily News investigation, fare evasion (also called fare-beating) costs
NYC transit $27 million.
As of 2015, the MTA was running a budget deficit of about $30 billion dollars.
The NYPD has defended enhanced enforcement of fare evasion. Saving the
MTA lost revenue and recovery of illegal contraband such as firearms were
cited as the chief benefits from aggressive policing. Fare evasion is
a common misdemeanor arrest which makes it one of the leading causes for
incarceration. According to a recent article by the Daily News, in 2013,
there were 24,747 arrests for fare evasion in New York City and from 2008 to 2013,
37,500 people received jail sentences for fare evasion.
Under P.L. 165.15: A person is guilty of theft of services when:
With intent to obtain railroad, subway, bus, air, taxi or any other public
transportation service without payment of the lawful charge therefor,
or to avoid payment of the lawful charge for such transportation service
which has been rendered to him, he obtains or attempts to obtain such
service or avoids or attempts to avoid payment therefor by force, intimidation,
stealth, deception or mechanical tampering, or by unjustifiable failure
or refusal to pay
Penalties. Theft of services is a class A misdemeanor which carries the possibility
of jail and a permanent criminal record. Because theft of services is
a crime, conviction can lead to the permanent loss of a professional license,
immigration and international travel consequences, loss of other licenses,
and a damaged reputation. For example, if a new employer or your current
employer asks about your background, a fare evasion arrest may cause you
to reveal that you were arrested.
Defenses. Often, people charged with theft of services argue to the arresting officer
that they properly swiped, grabbed a student / senior MetroCard by mistake,
or that they can’t be arrested for something as minor as theft of
services considering the relatively small injury to the MTA. These defenses
often don’t work with the arresting officer and the arrest can result
in a court date in criminal court. This court date may happen after going
to central booking which may mean waiting in jail for about 24 hours to
see a judge. If you’re lucky, the police will issue you a desk appearance
ticket or pink summons because this avoids a lengthy detention in central booking.
What happens in court? The first court date is only an arraignment. An arraignment is when you
are officially charged by way of a criminal court complaint and bail can
be set (bail is possible but unlikely in a first arrest situation).
How Lance Fletcher can help. Being accused of a crime, regardless of the severity, can have severe
and lasting consequences. Don’t let an incident in the subway or
on a bus lead to the loss of employment or worse. Regardless of how you
got into this situation, you have rights and there are steps that should
be taken to limit the damage. At the Law Office of Lance Fletcher, we
will consider the circumstances surrounding your encounter with the police.
We will analyze what the officer saw and didn’t see, what you were
asked and what you said, whether you were read your Miranda rights, whether
you paid by some other method, and whether you may have accidentally entered
the wrong place or by using the wrong MetroCard. If this is your first
arrest or even if you have been in this situation before, Lance Fletcher
can often negotiate to avoid a criminal conviction going on your record
but this depends on the circumstances.
Some of our Theft of Services Case Outcomes
Manhattan - Client arrested for walking into the subway through the exit gate. Outcome:
Case dismissed, arrest fingerprints and mugshot destroyed (#CVD2247)
Manhattan - Client was a tourist from Europe - doubled up with another person to
enter without paying. Outcome: case dismissed - no deportation or immigration
Manhattan - Client was professional with engineering licenses - Used a relatives
senior MetroCard. Outcome: case dismissed - arrest fingerprints and mugshot
destroyed - No employment or license consequences (#GTJ1485)
Manhattan - Client here on a Green Card and observed by police jumping over a turnstile.
Outcome: Criminal charges dropped, case dismissed and no loss of status
or deportation. (#YJQ02288)
Brooklyn - Client's MetroCard wasn't working and entered through exit gate.
Outcome: Case dismissed, no criminal record. (#GGV452)
Queens - Client, a professional who was undergoing a background check, was visiting
US and got arrested for using a reduced fare MetroCard - Unable to come
to US for court date - Outcome: Case successfully resolved in client's
absence and case dismissed - no adverse employment consequences (#TYY1262)
Contact Us. If you have an upcoming court date, contact the Law Office
of Lance Fletcher for a free and confidential case evaluation. We have
offices conveniently located in downtown and midtown Manhattan and we
can be reached seven days a week at 212-619-3900.