There are numerous types of theft crime statutes in California, including California Penal Code 537, making it a crime to defraud an innkeeper. These types of charges may even result in a felony offense, depending on the total value of the theft. But do you know what does Defrauding an Innkeeper mean?
Anyone who obtains food, fuel, services, or accommodations at a hotel, motel, restaurant, apartment, marina, campground, or ski area without paying, with the intent to defraud, or obtains credit by pretense, or absconds, or by force or threats, removes their baggage with the intention not to pay for their food or accommodations.
What are the Penalties for Defrauding an Innkeeper?
If you are convicted of Penal Code 537, defrauding an innkeeper, your punishment is calculated based on the total value of the services or goods you took without paying.
Defrauding an innkeeper may be charged as petty theft or grand theft, depending on the amount of loss suffered by the victim.
If you are convicted of misdemeanor petty theft, which means the loss was worth $950 or less, you will face the following penalties:
- A county jail sentence of up to six months is possible.
- A fine of up to $1,000 is possible.
- Restitution for victims
A county jail sentence of up to six months is possible.
If the total value of the goods or services exceeds $950, you will be charged with grand theft, which is a wobbler, which means the case could be filed as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
Usually, your criminal record will influence the decision on how to file the case. If you have a prior conviction for Penal Code 537, you will almost certainly face a felony charge.
If you are convicted of felony grand theft, the following penalties will be imposed:
- Maximum sentence of three years in a California state prison
- A fine of up to $10,000 may be imposed.
- Restitution for victims
If convicted of misdemeanor grand theft, you face up to a year in county jail and a fine. (Source: Eg Attorneys)
Common Defenses for Defrauding Innkeeper Charges
Absence of Intention in Defrauding
If you look at the definition of PC 537, deceiving an innkeeper, you’ll see that you can’t be found guilty unless you have intent to deceive. Lawyers may be able to convince you that this needed aspect of the crime doesn’t exist.
Perhaps you might demonstrate that there was no criminal intent. Maybe you were preoccupied with your children, amid a complex event, or on a crucial phone conversation when you were asked to pay for your services. In other words, it wasn’t done on intention but rather by accident.
You might be able to argue that you didn’t do a PC 537 on purpose to defraud an innkeeper, but rather that it was an honest error with no desire to cause financial harm. Of course, this defense is only effective in a few circumstances.
If you’ve been charged with defrauding an innkeeper in violation of California Penal Code 537, you should call our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers so that you can look at the case in detail. (Source: Eg Attorneys)