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Alleged theft leads to 5-year prison sentence

On May 28, a 47-year-old man was sentenced to five years in prison for running out on a restaurant bill in Maryland. This was not the man's first conviction. Police report that he had been arrested multiple times for eating at local restaurants and then pretending to have a seizure instead of paying the bill.

The maximum penalty for theft of items worth less than $100 in Maryland is only a few weeks in jail, and the man reportedly served time for each of his prior convictions. In the most recent case, the bill the man was accused of not paying amounted to only $89, which allowed for the lesser penalty. However, prosecutors successfully argued that the man could be sentenced under the statute prohibiting theft of items worth less than $1,000, since 89 is mathematically less than 1,000. Defense attorneys have stated that they intend to appeal the sentence.

In 2010, the district attorney combined six separate dine and dash charges into one conspiracy charge in order to obtain a sentence of eighteen months. After his release, the man was convicted similar 13 more times, and he was ordered to serve between 90 days and 18 months in jail for each count. Two cases did not result in a conviction.

When a person is accused of a crime, a defense lawyer may be able to provide assistance and advice. That lawyer could attempt to dispute the allegations filed or seek to lower overly harsh charges. In this case, because the man was convicted of a more serious crime, his lawyer may attempt to appeal the case and seek to have the trial court's verdict overturned.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Baltimore 'dine and dasher' gets bill: five years in prison", Justin Fenton and Richard Gorelick, May 30, 2014

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