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Is it illegal in Las Vegas to charge food and drinks to another person's room?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Jan 16, 2019 | 0 Comments

Yes, if the other person has not given permission to the person making the charge. Since Nevada has so many hotels and is a travel mecca, it is no surprise the state has a specific fraud statute -- NRS 205.455 -- outlawing this and similar behavior. Depending on the case, the defendant may also face charges for impersonating another and using the victim's ID to harm them.

Defrauding the proprietor of Nevada hotel (NRS 205.445)

NRS 205.445 makes it unlawful for a person to obtain foodstuffs without paying and with intent to defraud the hotel's proprietor or manager. The court will presume that a person had intent to defraud if the prosecution can produce proof that either:

  • the foodstuffs was obtained by false pretenses,
  • the person refused or willfully neglected to pay for the foodstuffs,
  • the person absconded without paying or offering to pay for the foodstuffs, and/or
  • the person surreptitiously removed or attempted to remove his/her baggage without paying

If the food and drinks bill was for less than $650, charging to another room is prosecuted as a misdemeanor in Nevada, carrying:

  • up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines, and
  • restitution to the victims (such as the hotel and/or the other person who was charged)

If the food and drink bill was $650 or more, then violating NRS 205.445 is a category D felony in Nevada, carrying:

  • 1 to 4 years in Nevada State Prison, and
  • possibly up to $5,000 in fines, and
  • restitution to the victims (such as the hotel and/or the other person who was charged)

In many cases, hotels try to settle debts at least once before getting the state involved. If the hotel learns of the identify of the person who made the charge, the hotel may send a demand letter giving him/her 10 days to pay the food and drinks bill. During this 10-day grace period, the state should not prosecute the defendant.

Personating another (NRS 205.450)

People who charge foods and drinks to another person's room by pretending to be the other person also face charges for "personating another." Personating another under NRS 205.450 is a category C felony in Nevada, carrying:

  • 1 to 5 years in Nevada State Prison, and
  • possibly up to $10,000 in fines, and
  • restitution to the victim being falsely impersonated

Using another's personal ID to impersonate him/her (NRS 205.463)

Nevada law considers personating someone a type of stealing. If the person uses the victim's ID to charge food and drinks to his/her room, the person can be charged with "obtaining and using personal identifying information of another person to harm or impersonate the person." NRS 205.463 prohibits people from knowingly using another's ID with the intent to commit an unlawful act and to obtain anything of value in that other person's name.

Violating NRS.463 is typically charged as a category B felony in Nevada, carrying:

  • 1 to 20 years in Nevada State Prison, and
  • possibly up to $100,000 in fines, and
  • full restitution to the victim whose ID was misused

Note that that the minimum prison term is increased to three (3) years if the victim was disabled or at least 60 years old.


Legal References:

NRS 205.445  Defrauding proprietor of hotel, inn, restaurant, motel or similar establishment.

      1.  It is unlawful for a person:

      (a) To obtain food, foodstuffs, lodging, merchandise or other accommodations at any hotel, inn, trailer park, motor court, boardinghouse, rooming house, lodging house, furnished apartment house, furnished bungalow court, furnished automobile camp, eating house, restaurant, grocery store, market or dairy, without paying therefor, with the intent to defraud the proprietor or manager thereof;

      (b) To obtain credit at a hotel, inn, trailer park, motor court, boardinghouse, rooming house, lodging house, furnished apartment house, furnished bungalow court, furnished automobile camp, eating house, restaurant, grocery store, market or dairy by the use of any false pretense; or

      (c) After obtaining credit, food, lodging, merchandise or other accommodations at a hotel, inn, trailer park, motor court, boardinghouse, rooming house, lodging house, furnished apartment house, furnished bungalow court, furnished automobile camp, eating house, restaurant, grocery store, market or dairy, to abscond or surreptitiously, or by force, menace or threats, to remove any part of his or her baggage therefrom, without paying for the food or accommodations.

   2.  A person who violates any of the provisions of subsection 1 shall be punished:

      (a) Where the total value of the credit, food, foodstuffs, lodging, merchandise or other accommodations received from any one establishment is $650 or more, for a category D felony as provided in NRS 193.130. In addition to any other penalty, the court shall order the person to pay restitution.

      (b) Otherwise, for a misdemeanor.

      3.  Proof that lodging, food, foodstuffs, merchandise or other accommodations were obtained by false pretense, or by false or fictitious show or pretense of any baggage or other property, or that the person refused or willfully neglected to pay for the food, foodstuffs, lodging, merchandise or other accommodations, or that the person gave in payment for the food, foodstuffs, lodging, merchandise or other accommodations negotiable paper on which payment was refused, or that the person absconded without paying or offering to pay for the food, foodstuffs, lodging, merchandise or other accommodations, or that the person surreptitiously removed or attempted to remove his or her baggage, is prima facie evidence of the fraudulent intent mentioned in this section.

      4.  This section does not apply where there has been an agreement in writing for delay in payment for a period to exceed 10 days.

NRS 205.450  Personating another.  Every person who shall falsely represent or personate another, and, in such assumed character, shall marry another, become bail or surety for any party, in any proceeding, civil or criminal, before any court or officer authorized to take such bail or surety, or confess any judgment, or acknowledge the execution of any conveyance of real property, or of any other instrument which, by law, may be recorded, or do any other act in the course of any suit, proceeding or prosecution, whereby the person so represented or personated may be made liable, in any event, to the payment of any debt, damages, cost or sum of money, or his or her right or interest may, in any manner be affected, is guilty of a category C felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.

NRS 205.455  Personating another same as stealing.  Unless a greater penalty is provided pursuant to NRS 205.463, a person who falsely represents or personates another, and, in such assumed character, receives any money or valuable property of any description intended to be delivered to the person so personated, shall be punished in the same manner and to the same extent as if the person stole the money or property so received.

NRS 205.463  Obtaining and using personal identifying information of another person to harm or impersonate person, to obtain certain nonpublic records or for other unlawful purpose; penalties; rebuttable inference that possessor of personal identifying information intended to unlawfully use such information.

      1.  Except as otherwise provided in subsections 2 and 3, a person who knowingly:

      (a) Obtains any personal identifying information of another person; and

      (b) With the intent to commit an unlawful act, uses the personal identifying information:

             (1) To harm that other person;

             (2) To represent or impersonate that other person to obtain access to any personal identifying information of that other person without the prior express consent of that other person;

             (3) To obtain access to any nonpublic record of the actions taken, communications made or received by, or other activities or transactions of that other person without the prior express consent of that other person; or

             (4) For any other unlawful purpose, including, without limitation, to obtain credit, a good, a service or anything of value in the name of that other person,

--> is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 20 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $100,000.

      2.  Except as otherwise provided in subsection 3, a person who knowingly:

      (a) Obtains any personal identifying information of another person; and

      (b) Uses the personal identifying information to avoid or delay being prosecuted for an unlawful act,

--> is guilty of a category C felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.

      3.  A person who violates:

      (a) Subsection 1 or 2 by obtaining and using the personal identifying information of an older person or a vulnerable person;

      (b) Subsection 1 or 2 by obtaining and using the personal identifying information of five or more persons;

      (c) Subsection 1 or 2 by causing another person to suffer a financial loss or injury of $3,000 or more as a result of the violation; or

      (d) Subsection 2 to avoid or delay being prosecuted for an unlawful act that is punishable as a category A felony or category B felony,

--> is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 3 years and a maximum term of not more than 20 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $100,000.

      4.  In addition to any other penalty, the court shall order a person convicted of violating subsection 1 to pay restitution, including, without limitation, any attorney's fees and costs incurred to:

      (a) Repair the credit history or rating of the person whose personal identifying information the convicted person obtained and used in violation of subsection 1; and

      (b) Satisfy a debt, lien or other obligation incurred by the person whose personal identifying information the convicted person obtained and used in violation of subsection 1.

      5.  Proof of possession of the personal identifying information of five or more persons in a manner not set forth in NRS 205.4655 permits a rebuttable inference that the possessor intended to use such information in violation of this section.

NRS 205.465  Possession or sale of document or personal identifying information to establish false status or identity; penalties; rebuttable inference that possessor of personal identifying information intended to unlawfully use such information.

      1.  It is unlawful for a person to possess, sell or transfer any document or personal identifying information for the purpose of establishing a false status, occupation, membership, license or identity for himself or herself or any other person.

      2.  Except as otherwise provided in subsection 3, a person who:

      (a) Sells or transfers any such document or personal identifying information in violation of subsection 1; or

      (b) Possesses any such document or personal identifying information in violation of subsection 1 to commit any of the crimes set forth in NRS 205.085 to 205.217, inclusive, 205.473 to 205.513, inclusive, or 205.610 to 205.810, inclusive,

--> is guilty of a category C felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.

      3.  A person who violates subsection 2 by:

      (a) Selling or transferring the personal identifying information of an older person or a vulnerable person;

      (b) Selling or transferring the personal identifying information of five or more persons; or

      (c) Causing another person to suffer a financial loss or injury of $3,000 or more as a result of the violation,

--> is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 20 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $100,000.

      4.  Except as otherwise provided in this subsection and subsections 2 and 3, a person who possesses any such document or personal identifying information in violation of subsection 1 is guilty of a category E felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130. If a person possesses any such document or personal identifying information in violation of subsection 1 for the sole purpose of establishing false proof of age, including, without limitation, establishing false proof of age to game, purchase alcoholic beverages or purchase cigarettes or other tobacco products, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor.

      5.  Subsection 1 does not:

      (a) Preclude the adoption by a city or county of an ordinance prohibiting the possession of any such document or personal identifying information; or

      (b) Prohibit the possession or use of any such document or personal identifying information by officers of local police, sheriff and metropolitan police departments and by agents of the Investigation Division of the Department of Public Safety while engaged in undercover investigations related to the lawful discharge of their duties.

      6.  Proof of possession of the personal identifying information of five or more persons in a manner not set forth in NRS 205.4655 permits a rebuttable inference that the possessor intended to use such information in violation of this section.

NRS 205.380  Obtaining money, property, rent or labor by false pretenses.

      1.  A person who knowingly and designedly by any false pretense obtains from any other person any chose in action, money, goods, wares, chattels, effects or other valuable thing, including rent or the labor of another person not his or her employee, with the intent to cheat or defraud the other person, is a cheat, and, unless otherwise prescribed by law, shall be punished:

      (a) If the value of the thing or labor fraudulently obtained was $650 or more, for a category B felony by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 6 years, or by a fine of not more than $10,000, or by both fine and imprisonment. In addition to any other penalty, the court shall order the person to pay restitution.

      (b) If the value of the thing or labor fraudulently obtained was less than $650, for a misdemeanor, and must be sentenced to restore the property fraudulently obtained, if it can be done, or tender payment for rent or labor.

      2.  For the purposes of this section, it is prima facie evidence of an intent to defraud if the drawer of a check or other instrument given in payment for:

      (a) Property which can be returned in the same condition in which it was originally received;

      (b) Rent; or

      (c) Labor performed in a workmanlike manner whenever a written estimate was furnished before the labor was performed and the actual cost of the labor does not exceed the estimate,

--> stops payment on that instrument and fails to return or offer to return the property in that condition, or to specify in what way the labor was deficient within 5 days after receiving notice from the payee that the instrument has not been paid by the drawee.

      3.  The notice must be sent to the drawer by certified mail, return receipt requested, at the address shown on the instrument. The notice must include a statement of the penalties set forth in this section. Return of the notice because of nondelivery to the drawer raises a rebuttable presumption of the intent to defraud.

      4.  A notice in boldface type clearly legible and in substantially the following form must be posted in a conspicuous place in every principal and branch office of every bank and in every place of business in which retail selling is conducted or labor is performed for the public and must be furnished in written form by a landlord to a tenant:


       The stopping of payment on a check or other instrument given in payment for property which can be returned in the same condition in which it was originally received, rent or labor which was completed in a workmanlike manner, and the failure to return or offer to return the property in that condition or to specify in what way the labor was deficient within 5 days after receiving notice of nonpayment is punishable:

       1.  If the value of the property, rent or labor fraudulently obtained was $650 or more, as a category B felony by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 6 years, or by a fine of not more than $10,000, or by both fine and imprisonment.

       2.  If the value of the property, rent or labor so fraudulently obtained was less than $650, as a misdemeanor by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 6 months, or by a fine of not more than $1,000, or by both fine and imprisonment.

 

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.

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