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Theft of Communications Services - Florida Statute 812.15 | West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer

Theft of Communications Services Lawyer

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have all the TV channels? People get bored with a limited selection of TV channels or with whatever an antenna picks up and start to think about how they can obtain free cable. Sometimes they have a friend who knows a guy who can “hook them up.” Other times people are getting their cable installed and they wonder if the cable guy could install some of the extra premium channels “on the side” kind of like the movie The Cable Guy with Jim Carrey.

People also get the idea about hooking themselves with extra channels up by buying equipment off the internet and installing it. The problem with that is the equipment that is typically installed to get free Pay-Per-View interferes with the signals the cable companies use to figure out if someone is stealing cable. Once the signals are interrupted, a cable guy is sent out and will investigate. Furthermore, if you tap into someone else’s cable, it’s easy to find out who did it, a cable serviceman just has to follow the cable right back to you.

In this internet age, we jump on the internet all the time. Sometimes we swing by coffee shops or libraries to get on the free Wi-Fi. People get the idea that maybe other people have Wi-Fi around the neighborhood that they can “barrow” it for a second. What they do not know is that stealing wireless cable internet access is a crime under this statute.

This statute outlaws the theft of cable TV, the theft of cable internet, the possession of any type of equipment used to steal the TV or internet, the intercepting and decrypting of satellite channels, or advertising the cable theft equipment to sell.

What the State Prosecutor has to Prove to Convict You of Communication Services Theft

The state prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. You knowingly either:
    1. Intercepted, received, decrypted, disrupted, transmitted, retransmitted or acquired access to any communication service; or
    2. Helped others in intercepting, receiving, decrypting, disrupting, transmitting, retransmitting or acquiring access to any cable operation or other communication service;
  2. You did not have authorization from the cable operator or any communications service provider; and
  3. You did this intending to defraud the cable operator or communications service provider.

What the State Prosecutor has to Prove to Convict You of Possession of Cable Theft Equipment

The state prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. You intentionally possessed a communications device; and
  2. You did not have authorization from the cable operator or any communications service provider for the possession.


Stealing cable or wireless is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable up to 365 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. If the theft is for commercial advantage or financial gain, then it is a third-degree felony.

Possession of cable theft equipment is a first-degree misdemeanor. If a person possesses 5-49 pieces of cable theft equipment, it is a third-degree felony. If you have 50 or more pieces of cable theft equipment, you can be prosecuted for a second-degree felony punishable up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Advertising the sale of equipment is a first-degree misdemeanor. The fines can be for each device or each day you are in violation.

If you have a previous conviction of stealing cable or wireless, possessing cable theft equipment, or advertising cable theft equipment, a second conviction is a third-degree felony that is punishable up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Other Consequences

You will forfeit any communication devices that were in your control and involved in the violation. (e.g. your computer or cable box).

The cable company can sue you in civil court for damages and attorney fees.

Contact the Law Office of Roger P. Foley, P.A.

Cases involving cable theft will involve in-depth analysis of the facts surround the case. It is best to call our attorneys to set up a 5 minute free consultation to explain the facts of your case to us. We will use this information to craft a defense strategy to argue that you case should be dropped, dismissed, or acquitted. Call today so we can get to work for you.

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