Can Las Vegas casino marker lawyers get the charges dismissed?
Nevada criminal defense attorneys often can negotiate a full dismissal of criminal charges for unpaid casino markers if the defendant pays back the debt in full (plus criminal fines and administrative fees). Sometimes the DA’s office will agree to put the defendant on a monthly payment plan and drop the case once the casino debt is repaid. But if the defendant cannot pay, the defense attorney can try to fight the charges by arguing that:
- The casino markers were facially invalid; and/or
- The defendant had no intent to defraud
But under NRS 205.132, Nevada courts presume defendants had an intent to defraud if their bank account had insufficient funds when the casino tried to recoup a past-due marker. It makes no difference if the defendant genuinely had every intention of paying back the marker when he/she first took out the line of credit. This is why the defendant’s greatest chance of getting charges dropped is to repay the casino marker debt as soon as possible.
But depending on the facts of the case, there may be ways to “chip away” at this presumption that the defendant had an intent to defraud the casino. Examples are if:
- The defendant had an extensive history of paying back casino markers on time, and the current case is an aberration;
- The defendant became sick after taking out markers and did not have the physical capacity to repay them;
- The casino served the defendant alcohol, and the defendant took out the markers when he/she was too intoxicated to know what he/she was promising;
- The defendant’s bank records show that he/she had sufficient funds to pay the marker at the time he/she applied for it; and/or
- The casino knew beforehand the defendant did not have enough money to repay the marker.
Circumstances like the above make the defendant less blameworthy and may compel prosecutors to negotiate a favorable settlement.
Can I stay out of jail while the case is ongoing?
Normally after an arrest warrant issues in a Nevada casino marker case, the judge will set bail at the amount of the outstanding debt. But in practice, casino marker defense attorneys can often persuade judges to grant defendants immediate O.R. release without posting any bond if they can show that the defendants will use the opportunity to try to repay the debt.
Can my attorney appear in court for me?
Nevada judges usually do not require that defendants facing misdemeanor charges personally appear in court as long as their private attorney appears on their behalf. But if the casino marker charge is for a category D felony, then judges often do require that defendants appear personally at the arraignment even if they have an attorney.
Once the arraignment is over, defense attorneys can usually appear without the defendant at future court appearances. However, defendants are always required to show up to their preliminary hearing or trial.
Why do I need a criminal defense attorney for an unpaid casino debt?
In Nevada, not paying back a casino marker is a criminal offense under NRS 205.130. For decades criminal defense attorneys have been arguing that the law is unconstitutional because it creates a debtor’s prison. But so far, the Nevada Supreme Court has steadfastly sided with the casinos.
Can a bankruptcy lawyer help me?
Usually not. Nevada casino marker debt is not dischargeable in bankruptcy as long as the criminal case remains open. But once the criminal case ends – or if the D.A. never presses charges in the first place – then it might be possible to have any remaining marker debt discharged in a bankruptcy proceeding.
Do I really need a criminal defense lawyer?
A private defense attorney is recommended to fight any criminal case, but especially so in casino marker cases. Nevada’s casinos are powerful corporations, and they use the county D.A.’s Bad Check Unit as their personal debt collector. Defendants need a strong advocate to negotiate a workable settlement so they can stay out of custody.
Otherwise, defendants who get convicted of unpaid casino markers face one to four years in prison for each unpaid marker. And there is a five-year waiting period after the case ends before defendants can get the conviction sealed from their criminal record.
Since the stakes are so high, everyone charged with not paying back a marker is strongly advised to hire experienced private counsel. It is the best chance of avoiding jail time.
Facing bad check charges for unpaid casino markers? Our experienced Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers are on your side. We create attorney-client relationships in Las Vegas, Henderson, Reno, and throughout the state of Nevada. We can consult over the phone or in person at one of our law offices.
See our related article, What is a casino marker?