Interviewer: How different is theft of services compared to theft of property? Is that like if someone doesn’t pay for a cab or like dine and dash kind of situation?
Court Koehler: Theft of services is probably what you would be looking at there. That can be anything from dining, dashing and it could be something like running out of a cab or failure to pay even on a bus or a train. In Salt Lake City, we have the tracks lines and sometimes you could be facing charges for theft of services if you fail to buy a track ticket and you get caught. It can be that kind of stuff too.
The Penalties for Theft of Services are Generally Less Severe Than for Receiving Stolen Property Charges
Interviewer: Are the penalties for theft of services less extreme than maybe theft of stolen property?
Court Koehler: Yes. You’re probably looking at under that $500 line there so it’s probably going to be a class B misdemeanor unless somehow it’s a really expensive service. Typically it would be under that first bottom level, yes.
Forgery Charges Entail More Severe Criminal Consequences than Theft Charges
Interviewer: When someone gives a hot check, what sort of charges does that entail in regards to theft? What sort of problems could someone be facing with that?
Court Koehler: Typically, when you get into checks and things like that, a lot of times those charges are actually forgery charges. Also similar to theft and in that same realm, it deepens on the circumstances, but if you cash a check by signing and by endorsing it as someone else and that’s technically a forgery. It is actually a more severe crime than theft. A forgery is a crime of moral turpitude, that’s what it is called. It has some additional criminal consequences but it’s classified a little bit differently than your garden-variety shoplifting because it’s a direct lie in a way. So it’s a more serious crime and it’s the same underlying elements but yes, that would be a forgery.
Passing a Bad Check Can Typically Result in Theft by Deception Charges
Interviewer: Is forgery considered more severe because it implies a notion of deceit?
Court Koehler: Yes, it does absolutely. It’s also a crime, passing a bad check. That’s not a forgery like if you are writing a check and you know that you don’t have enough money to cover the check, then that’s just a regular theft charge, theft by deception charge. So, it’s not a forgery but yes you can get in pretty serious trouble if you get caught writing bad checks. That’s another thing that is something that, maybe a lot of people have done one time or another not really thinking too much about it but, yes, it’s definitely not legal.
An Overview of White Collar Theft Crimes in the State of Utah
Interviewer: What falls within the whole white-collar theft bracket?
Court Koehler: Generally, when you’re talking about white collar crimes, you are talking about felony level theft and fraud. It’s going to be either embezzlement or securities fraud and most of the time it’s a security fraud. In Utah, for whatever reason, we seem to have a problem with a lot of Ponzi schemes. We have a number of those cases that come out of Utah in the last decade or so. What they are and when they are charged criminally as they are securities frauds.
Securities Fraud Could Include Stocks, Real Estate, Loans or Any Form of Financial Instrument
Security is a financial instrument, it can be a lot of different things; it can be stocks, it can be real estate, it could be promissory notes that are based on real estate or backed by real estate, it could be loans or all sorts of different sort of financial instruments or investments can be classified as security. Anytime you have somebody that is committing an investment fraud or a Ponzi scheme, trading stocks with inside information or something like that, those kinds of things are securities frauds. It’s definitely an extremely serious charge and it’s taken very seriously by the prosecutors, especially here in Utah because we seem to have a particularly bad problem with it.