Defrauding an Innkeeper in Florida

The crime of Defrauding an Innkeeper prohibits obtaining food or lodging with intent to defraud an innkeeper.

Defrauding an Innkeeper differs from the crime of theft, in that theft involves the taking of property without permission, whereas an innkeeper voluntarily provides the food or lodging in advance, but with the expectation of later payment.

If accused of Defrauding an Innkeeper in Florida, you need to know the:

Definition of Defrauding an Innkeeper

Under Florida Statute 509.151, the crime of Defrauding an Innkeeper is committed when a person obtains food, lodging, or accommodations at any public food service establishment, hotel, motel, or temporary lodging establishment with the intent to defraud the operator out of the value of the food, lodging, or accommodations.

Penalties for Defrauding an Innkeeper

If the value of the food, lodging, or other accommodations is valued at less than $300, the crime is classified as Misdemeanor Defrauding an Innkeeper.

If the value of the food, lodging, or other accommodations is valued at $300 or more, the crime is classified as Felony Defrauding an Innkeeper.

Misdemeanor Defrauding an Innkeeper

The crime of Misdemeanor Defrauding an Innkeeper is classified as a Second Degree Misdemeanor.

If convicted of Misdemeanor Defrauding an Innkeeper in Florida, a judge can also impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • Up to sixty (60) days in jail.
  • Up to sixty (60) days of probation.
  • Up to $500 in fines.

Felony Defrauding an Innkeeper

The crime of Felony Defrauding an Innkeeper is classified as a Third Degree Felony and is assigned a Level 1 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code.

If convicted of Felony Defrauding an Innkeeper, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • Up to five (5) years in prison.
  • Up to five (5) years of probation.
  • Up to $5,000 in fines.

Defenses to Defrauding an Innkeeper

In addition to the pretrial defenses and trial defenses that can be raised in any criminal case, common defenses to the crime of Defrauding an Innkeeper include:

Disputed Amount Owed

The crux of the crime of Defrauding an Innkeeper is that a person intentionally attempts to defraud an innkeeper out of the value of the food, lodging, or accommodations provided.

However, if there is a good faith dispute as to the amount owed and the innkeeper refuses to accept the proffered payment, then there is no intent to defraud and no crime has occurred. [1]

Inedible Food

There is an implied covenant in every restaurant-patron transaction that the restaurant is only entitled to be paid, or retain payment, for food if the food served by the restaurant is edible. [2]

It is important to note that this covenant is based upon what would be “reasonably expected” by a consumer in the food served. Usually, this defense would be limited to instances where foreign or unexpected objects were discovered in the food or obvious signs of over or under cooking are present. [3]

Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby

If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of Defrauding an Innkeeper in Central Florida or the Greater Orlando area, contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby today.

The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken.

References

  1. Florida Statute 509.161
  2. Lashley v. Bowman, 561 So. 2d 406 (Fla. 5th DCA 1990)
  3. Zabner v. Howard Johnson's, 201 So. 2d 824, 826 (Fla. 4th DCA 1967)