It is not uncommon when someone is unable to pay his or her debts that the matter may be moved into civil litigation in the court of law. However, being unable to pay debts is a different thing than intentionally avoiding payments, which can land someone with a criminal charge known as “theft of services.” For hundreds in Pennsylvania, however, their legal troubles with paying off debts have turned into criminal records, due to the actions of a county judge.

The ongoing investigation was sparked when a person applied for a new job and was asked about a theft charge on their background check.  This led to the revelation that many other people had been charged with theft of services for things such as repair services, credit union debts and even YMCA fees. This is now being investigated by Democratic Auditor General, who is working with judicial officials in the responsible judge’s county to find a resolution to this unusual mishap.

Why exactly this happened has yet to be fully determined. However, it was stated that this pattern of misclassification may have been implemented with the intention of eliminating the collection of advance costs, which is normally necessary for civil actions. One effect of this would have been to reduce financial burdens on complainants.

If someone has been wrongfully accused of a crime, or they have been charged with a crime that does not fit the circumstances, they may need legal representation. A competent attorney who practices criminal law may be able to sort out erroneous criminal charges.