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Defrauding an Innkeeper – Penalties & Punishments

The crime of defrauding an innkeeper refers to when a person uses fraud to obtain goods or services from a business without paying for them. Depending on the amount stolen, the offense can be alternatively charged as a misdemeanor petty theft or a felony grand theft which carries a maximum sentence of up to 3 years in jail.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt
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What are Some Examples of Defrauding an Innkeeper?

  • Not paying for a meal you eat at a restaurant (dine and Dash)
  • Filling your tank with gas at a gas station and then driving off without paying
  • Staying at a hotel and then leaving without paying for your room and board

What is Consumer Fraud?

Consumer fraud is defined as a deceptive business practice that causes consumers to suffer financial or other losses. Victims of consumer fraud believe they are participating in a legal and valid business transaction when they are actually being stolen from. This type of crime is often related to false promises or inaccurate claims made to consumers, as well as practices that directly cheat consumers out of their money.

What's the Difference Between Fraud and Theft?

The difference between theft and fraud occurs in the process by which the victim's property is deprived. Theft requires the taking or moving of another's property, whereas fraud requires an intent to gain a benefit by deceit or any other fraudulent or dishonest means.

Penalties for Defrauding an Innkeeper

If you are convicted of defrauding an innkeeper, punishment is based on the total value of the services or goods stolen. The crime may be charged as either petty theft or grand theft and will depend on the amount of loss suffered by the victim.

In most states, if you are convicted of misdemeanor petty theft charges (the loss was $950 or less), it will carry the following penalties:

  • Up to 6 months in county jail
  • A fine of up to $1,000
  • Victim restitution

If the total value of the loss is over $950, you will be charged with grand theft, which is a “wobbler” crime, meaning the case may be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony.

The decision on how to file the case typically depends on the defendant's criminal record. If he or she has a prior conviction for defrauding an innkeeper, they will probably be facing a felony case.

If you are convicted of felony fraud, it will carry the following penalties:

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