Defrauding an Establishment/Innkeeper
You will most likely have heard of the term “dine & dash” or seen examples of it in the news. For example, people will go to a restaurant, order and eat food, and when the time comes to pay the bill, they dash instead. Receiving a good or service and then intentionally not paying for it is a crime in the state of California. The crime is considered a theft and carries severe punishments. If you are unsure of what comprises this crime or have any questions, read the brief overview below and reach out to us at Law Advocates Group.
The Elements of the Crime
So-called dine & dash is a crime according to California Penal Code 537. Outside of a restaurant context, this crime is referred to as defrauding an innkeeper. It is defined as using a business’ good or service and then purposefully not paying for the good or service (if payment was required). Another common example of this type of fraud involves using a hotel’s services and not paying the bill.
The most important aspect of this crime is the intent to defraud. The defendant must have intentionally defrauded the business. The prosecution must prove that the defendant received a good or service or received a credit for it, did not pay for the good or service, and the defendant did so with the intention to commit fraud.
Penalties for this Crime
To use a good or service and defraud a business is a serious offense. The defendant faces either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the amount of money they defrauded from the innkeeper. If the good or service used by the defendant was valued at $950 or lower, then the defendant faces a misdemeanor and can end up in jail for up to six months. If the good or service was worth more than $950, then the defendant faces either a misdemeanor or a felony. In this case, the convicted defendant will spend time in jail or state prison.