Is it Illegal to Dine and Dash in California?

To dine and dash means to consume food at a restaurant and leave without paying for the meal. The 11-letter phrase may make the act seem small, but dining and dashing could result in a misdemeanor or felony charge punishable by fines and/or imprisonment.

What Laws Concern Dining and Dashing?

Under California Penal Code 537 PC, dine and dash is a type of theft crime in which an individual does not pay for services with the intent to defraud the proprietor or manager of a hotel, restaurant, motel, campground, or any other establishment that serves food and/or beverages.

If the meal cost $950 or less, the individual could be charged with a misdemeanor. If convicted of this offense, the person could be fined up to $1,000 and put in jail for up to 6 months.

If the amount of the meal was more than $950, the individual could face either a misdemeanor or felony charge. A conviction could result in up to 1 year in county jail or state prison.

What Legal Defenses Are Available?

A few different legal defenses can be raised to challenge charges for dining and dashing. Because the law specifies “intent to defraud,” it is possible to show that the individual did not leave the premises with the purpose of causing financial harm to the owner of the establishment.

The person can also attempt to prove that they mistakenly left without paying, thinking that someone else in their party paid the bill.

Call The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch for Legal Defense – Your Initial Case Evaluation Is Free

If you were charged with a theft crime, contact The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch. Our attorney has over 18 years of experience handling various legal matters and will use his considerable knowledge to build a strong defense for your case.

To schedule your case evaluation, call us at (559) 484-2112 or contact us online.