You’re sitting in a restaurant enjoying a lovely meal with your friends. You were their guest, so you didn’t even think about the bill when you stepped outside for a minute to grab a smoke.
A few minutes later, your friends come out the door and quickly hustle you into the car, laughing as they drive away. You quickly come to learn that they snuck out on the bill – and now you’re part of a “dine and dash.”
In a situation like this, you could be held liable for theft by deception.
What is theft by deception?
“Dining and dashing” is often thought of as a prank but it is actually a theft by deception. The couple gave the waiter the impression that they intended to pay for their meal, but in the end, they did not.
Most dine and dash cases in Maryland fall into the “misdemeanor” category, but the penalties work like this:
- If the total amount of the bill is $100 or less, this is a minor or low-level misdemeanor. The penalty includes 90 days in jail and up to a $500 fine.
- If the cost of the meal was between $100-$1500 the penalties for a first-time offender would be up to six months in jail and up to a $500 fine.
- A person who has been charged with a second or third offense could see up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $500.
- If a person has four or more misdemeanor charges in their past, the penalty becomes much stiffer. The accused could spend up to five years behind bars and pay a fine as high as $5000.
Should you find yourself being charged with theft by deception, you will want to explore all your defense options and seek out experienced legal guidance.