One of the great things about New York City is that a fun night of partying
can be had relatively safely because taxis are so readily available to
drive residents home. The proliferation of Uber has also made it easier
for people without cash on hand to get a ride home after a night of drinking.
However, sometimes, people having a good time in the city get into taxis
without realizing that they don’t have any way of paying for the
taxi – either they don’t have enough cash on hand or they
have forgotten their wallet at the bar. It is a common and honest mistake
made time and again by law-abiding citizens and professionals in New York
City. What is surprising to most people, however, is that this mistake
routinely results in a criminal arrest that can have serious immigration
and job consequences for the person that made the innocent mistake.
Though it seems like a simple and small matter that ought to be handled
civilly, taxi drivers typically will call police or drive their passengers
to police precincts for arrest. There, police officers will typically
arrest the passengers and fingerprint them and give them Desk Appearance
Tickets charging them with one count of Theft of Services, a class A misdemeanor
in violation of Penal Law Section 165.15 (PL 165.15). Recently, the stepdaughter
of Attorney General Loretta Lynch was arrested for this mistake (though
the arrest was ultimately voided when her boyfriend came to the precinct
and paid her fare), and the attorneys at Galluzzo & Arnone LLP have
represented dozens of people charged criminally under this scenario.
A conviction for a misdemeanor gives a person a permanent criminal record
and potentially carries a maximum jail sentence of one year. However,
this is not a typical result for most individuals arrested and charged
with Theft of Services (PL 165.15). It should be noted that a person is
only guilty of this crime if he or she intends to withhold payment for
taxi services – in most of these cases, the failure to pay is an
accident, and not intentional. That being said, the arrest itself can
have serious consequences for some professionals and non-citizens.
For example, if you are a professional working in the finance industry,
you will almost certainly have to report this arrest to your employer.
FINRA-licensed brokers will have to acknowledge on their U4 forms that
they have been arrested for a crime of theft. Those employees of FDIC-insured
institutions can also be rendered unable to work by virtue of the FDIA
(Federal Deposit Insurance Act) prohibition of employees having criminal
charges relating to theft. If you are employed in the finance field, you
should seriously consider contacting the experienced criminal defense
attorneys at Wall Street-based firm Galluzzo & Arnone LLP, as they
have extensive experience representing financial professionals in matters
Moreover, if you are a non-citizen, you should be aware of the fact that
this charge can count as a “crime involving moral turpitude,”
which can have serious consequences for your visa or your application
for citizenship. If you are a non-citizen facing a charge like this one,
you should strongly consider contacting the multilingual defense attorneys
at Galluzzo & Arnone LLP, as they have represented clients from virtually
every industrialized nation and have close relationships with the New
York-area consulates of several foreign countries (in particular France,
Saudia Arabia, Australia, Belgium and Switzerland).