NRS 205.445 is the Nevada law that prohibits defrauding an innkeeper. In Las Vegas, this typically involves sneaking out of a hotel or restaurant without paying.
Defrauding an innkeeper is a category D felony in Nevada if the value of the stolen services or goods is $1,200 or higher. This carries one to four years in prison, up to $5,000 in fines, and restitution.
Otherwise, defrauding an innkeeper is prosecuted as a misdemeanor. This carries up to six months in jail and/or $1,000 in fines, plus restitution.
NRS 205.445 reads:
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 $1,200 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.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is “defrauding an innkeeper” in Nevada?
- 2. What are the penalties for violating NRS 205.445?
- 3. How do I fight the charges?
- 4. Can the case be sealed from my criminal record?
- 5. Related offenses
1. What is “defrauding an innkeeper” in Nevada?
Defrauding an innkeeper refers to when someone purposely obtains food, property, credit, or services from an establishment without paying.
Specifically, NRS 205.445 prohibits three things:
- Obtaining food, lodging, merchandise, or other accommodations from an establishment without paying and with the intent to defraud the establishment.
- Obtaining credit at an establishment by the use of any false pretense; or
- Obtaining credit, food, lodging, merchandise, or other accommodations from an establishing, and then leaving without paying.1
These cases typically involve staying at hotels or eating at restaurants and then sneaking out before paying the bill. In Las Vegas, hotels and high-end restaurants try to avoid this scenario by demanding your credit card number to hold the reservation.
2. What are the penalties for violating NRS 205.445?
Nevada’s criminal sentence for defrauding an innkeeper depends on the value of the stolen items or services:
Value of Wrongfully Obtained Items/Services
NRS 205.445 penalties
|$1,200 or more||Category D felony: |
|Less than $1,200||Misdemeanor: |
3. How do I fight the charges?
The most common defense to Nevada charges of defrauding an innkeeper is that you never meant to defraud anyone and that you simply forgot to pay. If you were drinking, then you may have been too intoxicated to remember to pay. Eyewitness accounts and surveillance video could be used to show that you never “snuck out.”
Another potential defense is that you did pay, and that the establishment simply made a mistake. You can use receipts or credit card statements as proof of payment.
Or if the police found the allegedly stolen food or items through an illegal search, you can ask the court to “suppress” them as evidence. Then depending on the case, the prosecution may be forced to drop the entire charge for lack of proof.
4. Can the case be sealed from my criminal record?
Yes. A category D conviction for defrauding an innkeeper in Nevada can be sealed five years after the case ends. But a misdemeanor conviction can be sealed only one year after the case ends.
Note that if you win the case and the judge dismisses the charge, you can petition for a record seal immediately.3
Learn more about record sealing in Nevada.
5. Related offenses
If the value of the stolen items is below $1,200, shoplifting is considered “petit larceny” and is charged as a misdemeanor. But if the value is $1,200 or higher, shoplifting is considered “grand larceny” and prosecuted as a felony.4
Legally referred to as larceny from a person, pick-pocketing is always a category C felony. The sentence is one to five years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines, and restitution.5
Embezzlement occurs when a person steals property or money that the owner/proprietor entrusted to them. It is punished the same as larceny.6
5.4. Obtaining money by false pretenses
Like it sounds, obtaining money by false pretenses is misrepresenting yourself in order to get money or something of value from someone else. It is punished the same as larceny.7
5.5. Unlawful use of a hotel key
Possessing a hotel room key with the intent to commit a crime (such as accessing someone else’s room to steal their belongings) is a gross misdemeanor carrying up to 364 days in jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines.8
5.6. Unpaid casino markers
Failing to pay back casino markers is prosecuted the same as trying to pass a bad check. And Nevada law presumes you had an intent to defraud when your bank account has insufficient funds.
Failing to pay back less than $1,200 in markers is a misdemeanor. Otherwise, it is a felony carrying incarceration, fines, and restitution.9
Burglary is entering a vehicle or structure with the intent to commit theft or a felony inside. It is always prosecuted as a felony, even if nothing was stolen and no damage was done.10
Robbery is taking money or property from someone’s person or presence by using force or fear (such as holding someone up). Robbery is always a felony, even if no one gets hurt.11
5.9. Auto theft
Stealing a car is always a felony, even if the value of the car is low. A first-time offense is a category C felony, carrying one to five years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines, plus restitution.12
Nevada has no specific looting statute. Depending on the circumstances of the alleged looting, prosecutors can bring charges for larceny, burglary, robbery, arson, vandalism, and rioting.13
See our related articles, Is it illegal in Las Vegas to charge food and drinks to another person’s room?, Can I be arrested for “Dine-and-Dash” in Las Vegas?, and Can I go to jail for trashing my Las Vegas hotel room?
- 205.445. Defrauding proprietor of hotel, inn, restaurant, motel or similar establishment. See, for example: Zahavi v. State (2015)
- NRS 179.245. NRS 179.255.
- NRS 205.240. NRS 205.220.
- NRS 205.270.
- NRS 205.300.
- NRS 205.380.
- NRS 205.900.
- NRS 205.130.
- NRS 205.060.
- NRS 200.380.
- NRS 205.228.
- See NRS 203.070. NRS 205.010 – .025. NRS 206.310.