Defrauding an Innkeeper

Defrauding an innkeeper in Michigan is a misdemeanor offense that carries a maximum penalty of 93 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.  If convicted, the court can also elect to place the individual on probation for up to 2 years.  This offense can be charged either under state law or local ordinance.  Basically this offense occurs when a person fails to pay their bill at a restaurant, bar, cafe, hotel, or motel with the intent to defraud the business establishment.  The state law for defrauding an innkeeper is listed below:

750.292 Hotel, motel, inn, restaurant, cafe; defrauding; limitation on proceedings.

Any person who shall put up at any hotel, motel, inn, restaurant or cafe as a guest and shall procure any food, entertainment or accommodation without paying therefor, except when credit is given therefor by express agreement, with intent to defraud such keeper thereof out of the pay for the same, or, who, with intent to defraud such keeper out of the pay therefor, shall obtain credit at any hotel, motel, inn, restaurant or cafe for such food, entertainment or accommodation, by means of any false show of baggage or effects brought thereto, is guilty of a misdemeanor. No conviction shall be had under the provisions of this section unless complaint is made within 60 days of the time of the violation hereof.

The purpose of this law is to protect businesses that regularly provide food, entertainment, or accommodation without being paid in advance.  Many waitresses and bartenders are unfairly held responsible for shortages due to people walking out on their tabs.

Occasionally, someone will go to a restaurant and will order without realizing that they forgot their wallet, or underestimated the amount of money they brought with them.  In those instances, if payment cannot be made with a credit card, it is advisable to call a friend or relative to come over to help pay what is owed.  Walking out on a bill will only lead to an accusation that the person intended to defraud, even if the person had in their mind the thought to return to settle the bill.  A person’s voluntary intoxication is not a defense to this crime.  It is not unheard of for a person to order a round of drinks and forget to pay due to their level of intoxication, or with a belief that someone else from the group would pick up the tab.  A mistake like this can sometimes be misinterpreted as an intent to defraud.

When charged with an offense such as defrauding an innkeeper it is important to hire an experienced criminal lawyer to assist you.  An experienced criminal lawyer may be able to help you avoid a criminal conviction and a harsh result, depending upon the circumstances of your case.


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