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.

Have you been arrested for Theft of Services, P.L. 165.15? Theft of Services, P.L. 165.15 (PDF)

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 proceedings (#VHY0468)

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 Evaluation 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.

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