As per Florida Statute §509.151, defrauding an innkeeper is a crime in which an individual gets lodging, accommodation or food at any motel, hotel, temporary lodging establishment, or public food service establishment, and the intention of that individual is to commit deception or fraud by not paying for the above mentioned facilities.
Legally, this crime is different from theft because theft means obtaining or stealing someone's property or possession. But, in this case, the Innkeeper willingly offers these services while assuming that he/she will be paid for these services on agreed time and date in the future.
Penalties for Defrauding an Innkeeper
The legal penalties depend on the subcategory of the crime. That said, if the total worth of these services (food, accommodation, lodging, etc.) is below $1000, this crime will be categorized as misdemeanor defrauding an innkeeper.
Similarly, if the total worth of the above mentioned services is equal to or more than $1000, then this crime will be categorized as felony defrauding an innkeeper."
Defrauding an Innkeeper where the total value is less than $1000
In Florida, it is considered as a misdemeanor of second degree where the total value involved in this crime is below $1000. If a person is found guilty of above mentioned charges, the legal punishment can be any of the following:
Imprisonment for up to 60 days
Probation for a maximum of 60 days
Defrauding an Innkeeper where the total value is equal to or more than $1000
According to the Criminal punishment code of Florida, it is considered as a felony of third-degree where the total value involved in this crime is equal to or more than $1000. Also, it ranked as an offense of level 1. If a person is found guilty of above mentioned charges, he/she can face any of the following punishments:
Imprisonment of a maximum of 5 years
Probation of a maximum of 5 years
A fine amounting up to $5,000
Defenses to Defrauding an Innkeeper
Dispute in amount owed
The core ingredient in this crime is the person who intends to deceive an innkeeper for the services (food, accommodation, lodging, etc.) provided by the Innkeeper. However, if the bone of contention or the dispute is related to "good faith," and there is rejection from Innkeeper regarding the acceptance of payment offered, this will not be considered a fraud.
It is an implied or understood rule that any hotel, restaurant, etc. can demand or retain payment for the food only if the food is edible. It is to be noted that this implication also depends on what a customer is reasonably expecting. In general circumstances, these defenses will only be applicable if the customer finds anything unexpected or any foreign object in the food. Moreover, if the food is either clearly undercooked or overcooked, it will be considered as inedible.
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