Bar, Nightclub, & Restaurant Theft of Services

With over 20,000 restaurants, about 2,000 bars, and hundreds of nightclubs dispensing over 10 million gallons per year of alcoholic beverages, New York City is one of the most popular places for a night out. Bars and night clubs can charge $20 or more per drink and high end clubs can charge $1,000 to $10,000 for bottle service. Although credit cards are often required to start a tab, they are usually not charged until the end of the night. When presented with a bill that can range from the hundreds to the thousands of dollars, some patrons are unwilling or unable to pay.

On purpose. Morality aside, who wouldn't like a free drink or meal? Some patrons knowingly trick a bar, nightclub, or restaurant into providing lavish service, expensive food and alcohol only to not pay when the check comes due. Because the service, drinks, and food are provided on the assumption that you'll pay, it becomes impossible for the establishment to collect if payment isn't made. To solve this problem, theft of services criminalizes certain situations where payment isn't properly made. Failing to pay a bar or restaurant tab is one of them.

By Accident. After a night of heavy drinking, many people are feeling the effect of intoxication. This lowers your inhibitions which may prompt you to make conclusions or act in unusual ways. This, in turn, may lead to a number of situations where you've walked out without paying. Also, the size of the bill may come as a legitimate surprise and overwhelm your ability to pay. In nightclubs, a group may decide to buy expensive bottle service but what if your friends suddenly abandon you when the bill becomes due? In other situations, bad service or foul tasting food may make you unwilling to pay. There are many situations where payment isn't made but not because you were trying to avoid payment for a legitimate bill.

bar club theft of services nyc lawyer

Whether on purpose or by accident, failing to pay a bar, nightclub, or restaurant may lead to theft of services charges. The consequences of conviction can last a lifetime.

The law. Theft of services is a class A misdemeanor.

P.L. 165.15 PDF Click Here

165.15 subsection 2. A person is guilty of theft of services when with intent to avoid payment for restaurant services rendered, or for services rendered to him as a transient guest at a hotel, motel, inn, tourist cabin, rooming house or comparable establishment, he avoids or attempts to avoid such payment by unjustifiable failure or refusal to pay, by stealth, or by any misrepresentation of fact which he knows to be false. A person who fails or refuses to pay for such services is presumed to have intended to avoid payment therefor.

Theft of services in a bar / restaurant / nightclub penalties

  • Jail
  • Permanent criminal record
  • Crime involving moral turpitude (immigration consequences)
  • Employment and professional license consequences

Lance Fletcher fights for the accused

If you have been arrested and given a desk appearance ticket with a court date for theft of services involving a bar, restaurant, or nightclub, contact us for a free case evaluation. Your first court date is an arraignment and a very critical stage of your case. Whether or not this was a mistake, Lance Fletcher will fight to get your case dismissed or reduced. We can discuss your conversations with the restaurant, bar, or nightclub staff, what the police said and did, financial records, receipts, and any defenses you may have.

Some of our bar, restaurant, and nightclub theft of service case results

Manhattan - Bar - Client left credit card with bar to start a tab - at the end of the night, the card was declined. Client was arrested and given a desk appearance ticket. Results: Lance Fletcher successfully negotiated terms for a dismissal, no criminal conviction. (#YHJ2265)

Manhattan - Night Club - Client got bottle service and was unable to pay tab that was over $2,000 - Also had cocaine in pocket. Results: Case eventually dismissed. No criminal record. (#TTN156)

Manhattan - Bar - Client Arrested for not paying check at end of night - Loud verbal and physical altercation ensued. Undercover police responded and client was arrested and given a desk appearance ticket. Result: Case dismissed. No criminal record. (#FVG2116)

Manhattan - Restaurant - Client and a friend ate an entire meal - Client failed to pay. Police called and client was not read Miranda rights and given a desk appearance ticket. Client was in the process of applying for a professional license. Results: Case dismissed, client able to get professional license. (VFW0886)

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