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Stealing Utility Services

Am I breaking the law if I don’t pay for my electricity?

Utilities are among the most important services used by families. Our heating, cooling, water, and electricity services all come from utility companies. But perhaps because these companies do not have a face, they operate with an increased risk of being dealt with unfairly. If you have been charged with a crime, or if you believe someone has stolen utility services from your business or home, talk with your local Virginia Criminal Lawyer for an assessment of your case.

In Virginia, it is a crime to try to obtain utility services by use of a false statement. (See Hall v. Com., 2 Va. App. 159 (1986). The false statement must relate to the accused’s intent to obtain the services without paying money or value, by way of the false statement. An interesting distinction must be made with respect to dealings with utility investigators. It is a specific violation of Virginia Code Section 18.2-187.1.A to lie to a utility investigator about the means used to obtain the service. (See Carter v. Com., 25 Va. App. 721(1997). In this scenario, the utility service usage must really be unauthorized to violate the statute. If you have questions about your charge, or if you need to find out whether your conduct is legal, speak with your local, trusted Virginia Beach Criminal Lawyer.

An unfortunately common situation arises many times utility services are disconnected because of failure to pay the bills on time. Virginia citizens must be careful not to violate the statute after services have been disconnected. In this context, it is a crime to fraudulently attempt to re-connect or re-obtain utility services. An important note: the consumer must have received notice of the disconnection. (See, VA Code 18.2-187.1.C) As you can see, a criminal charge may include aspects that do not necessarily meet the eye upon a first impression. To have your case evaluated, don’t hesitate to call your local Virginia Beach Criminal Lawyer .