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Defrauding an Innkeeper: What in the World Does That Mean?

Okabe & Haushalter Feb 22, 2019 Criminal Defense

Last month California’s most infamous dine and dasher surrendered himself at the Los Angeles County Superior Court to serve his 120 day jail sentence. The 45 year old man had notoriously met women on dating apps and asked them to dine at different restaurants in Southern California. He would eat dinner, sometimes ordering and eating two dinners at the same time, and then disappear from the restaurant before the check came leaving his dates and the restaurants to sort through the dinner bill matters.

To dine and dash is a crime

Eventually, this man’s lies and deceit caught up with him and he was arrested when he was recognized by a police officer. Seven women testified against him at trial. Different witnesses explained that they were embarrassed once they realized what had happened and some of them felt that they were obligated to pay the entire bill themselves. In two instances the restaurants picked up at least a portion of the bill when they learned of what happened.

Defrauding an innkeeper

As confusing as the charge may sound, defrauding an innkeeper generally covers criminal activity such as skipping out on a restaurant bill, a hotel or motel bill or leaving a gas station without paying for gasoline. Defrauding an innkeeper may be a felony or misdemeanor depending on the dollar value defrauded and the discretion of the prosecutors explained in more detail below:

  • $950 is the magic number when it comes to defrauding an innkeeper charge. If the value of the loss is less than $950, the charge will be a misdemeanor and the maximum fine will be $1,000 plus penalties and assessments and no more than six months in jail.
  • If the value of the loss is greater than $950, the defendant may or may not be convicted of a felony. Unlike some other crimes, defrauding an innkeeper of over $950 is not a mandatory felony. When the value is over $950, the defendant could be facing up to a year in jail or prison.

Charge reduction

Even when the charges against you seem devastating and hopeless, it may not be as bad as you think. Prosecutors will often maximize the charges against a defendant in order to bolster their position for a plea agreement. Sometimes the charges are so beyond the scope of the crime that criminal defense attorneys will successfully argue to have them dismissed altogether. The serial dines and dasher was originally charged with eight felony counts of extortion and two felony counts of attempted extortion. He ended up pleading no contest to four misdemeanors.

Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at Okabe & Haushalter are well versed in prosecutorial conduct and strategies. While charging defendants with unreasonably harsh charges may intimidate some defendants, it does not intimidate our criminal defense expert attorneys. Contact our attorneys if you have been charged with a crime and we will review the facts of your case, pending charges, and discuss your risks and defense strategy options.