Fraud on a hotel or restaurant keeper is potentially a felony in Wisconsin.  Contact our defense attorneys at (414) 270-0202 for help

As with many theft charges in Wisconsin, fraud on a hotel or restaurant keeper is a felony if over a certain dollar amount.  Specifically, this charge is a Class A misdemeanor if the values involved are under $2,500.00.  If the case involves fees totaling over $2,500.00, the charge is a Class I felony, including a potential penalty of 3.5 years in prison, $10,000.00 in fines, or both.

If you face any sort of criminal charge in Wisconsin, the criminal defense attorneys at Van Severen Law Office, S.C. are prepared to defend you.  We’ve defended thousands of individuals facing both misdemeanor and felony charges.  We’re a full-service criminal defense law firm, with staff and attorneys dedicating 100% of their time to criminal defense.

Finally, we offer free consultations to potential clients.  During that initial consultation, you’ll have a chance to meet with one of our criminal defense attorneys and begin speaking about your case.  We can discuss the facts of your case, possible defenses, and options we believe may be available to you.  Contact us at (414) 270-0202 to speak with our firm about scheduling a consultation.

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What does the statute say?

Statutes prohibit specific actions, which we call crimes.  Section 943.21 of the Wisconsin Statutes prohibits “fraud on hotel or restaurant keeper, recreational attraction, taxicab operator, or gas station.”  Specifically, the law indicates:

(1m) Whoever does any of the following may be penalized as provided in sub. (3):
(a) Having obtained any beverage, food, lodging, ticket or other means of admission, or other service or accommodation at any campground, hotel, motel, boarding or lodging house, restaurant, or recreational attraction, intentionally absconds without paying for it.
(b) While a guest at any campground, hotel, motel, boarding or lodging house, or restaurant, intentionally defrauds the keeper thereof in any transaction arising out of the relationship as guest.
(c) Having obtained any transportation service from a taxicab operator, intentionally absconds without paying for the service.
(d) Having obtained gasoline or diesel fuel from a service station, garage, or other place where gasoline or diesel fuel is sold at retail or offered for sale at retail, intentionally absconds without paying for the gasoline or diesel fuel.

Finally, it’s important to describe “sub. (3)” – this is the penalty section of the statute.  Specifically, if the value of the service or merchandise totals $2,500.00 or more, the crime is a Class I felony.  If it’s less, it’s a Class A misdemeanor.  While these are certainly penalties on the lower end of the spectrum, they’re serious enough that in certain circumstances, a conviction could send you to prison.

What are the elements of the offense?

Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1461 describes Fraud on Restaurant or Hotel Keeper.  Jury instructions are important because they describe the elements of crimes.  Elements are “parts” of a crime, and the government must prove each part beyond a reasonable doubt.  If they fail to do that, they will also fail to convict you.

The elements are:

  • Firstly, the defendant obtained a listed service or item at a hotel or restaurant.
  • Secondly, the defendant knew he was obligated to pay for the service or item.
  • Finally, the defendant intentionally absconded without paying.

Importantly, the jury instructions also include some important terms.  “Intentionally absconded” means that the defendant left with the mental purpose to avoid paying for the service or item.

It also includes a few concepts:

  • One who absentmindedly leaves without paying or who leaves temporarily without intending to terminate the relationship with the restaurant is not guilty of fraud on a restaurant keeper.  This simply points out the fact that the jury must find the defendant “intentionally absconded.”  Simple mistakes do not count.
  • If the person who provided the food consented to the defendant’s leaving without paying or extended credit, the defendant is not guilty of fraud on a restaurant keeper.  If the restaurant-keeper simply got mad and said “leave,” the defendant is not guilty of an offense.

How do we win my criminal case?

All criminal cases are different.  And all defendants are different.  That’s one of the reasons we offer free consultations – these meetings allow us to dig into your case more to figure out what’s going on.  Without knowing facts about your case, it’s impossible how to predict what will happen.  Especially in a very general article on our website.

But a few regular issues come up.  First of all, did you even commit the crime?  If you’re innocent (and even if you’re not), you maintain a right to jury trial.  If the government cannot meet its burden, you cannot be convicted.  This charge has some specific issues – when you didn’t pay you bill, did the keeper get mad and kick you out?  Remember, this is consenting to you leaving.  And if they “victim” consents to you leaving, you haven’t committed a crime.  Specific facts like this are incredibly important.

Our criminal defense lawyers are also aggressively file pre-trial motions.  Motions are also all incredibly important to your case.  For example, if police trick you into giving a false confession, we may file a motion challenging the government’s ability to use your statements at trial.  If the police violated your rights on a more basic level, perhaps a Miranda-Goodchild motion is more appropriate.  As your consultation we’ll explore possible motions and how they could apply to your case.

Fraud on a hotel or restaurant keeper
Leaving certain establishments without paying your bill could result in criminal charges. Contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202 for help.

Contact Van Severen Law Office, S.C. for immediate help

As kids, the dine and ditch seemed like something that only existed in urban legend.  As adults, these actions are crimes.  And if the value of the activities involved exceeds $2,500.00, it’s a felony that could send you to prison.  But that’s not the end of the road.  Now is when you must make an important decision: who should I hire as my attorney?

You’ll meet a variety of seasoned criminal defense experts at Van Severen Law Office, S.C.  We recognize that you might be embarrassed in this circumstance, but we’re here for one purpose: to help you.  If you’re looking for a trial, we can help.  If you’re simply looking to resolve this in the best way possible, we can also help.  Contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202 and let’s start talking about your case.

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