IN Nevada, it is a called a “marker" when you borrow money from a casino. If you do not pay back the marker, you may be charged and convicted of a felony, which carries a possible prison sentence. A felony conviction of this type of crime will certainly result of the loss of most professional licenses. Nevada allows the District Attorney’s Office to (“DA") to have a Bad Check Diversion Unit in lieu of prosecution. The primary goal of this unit is to expedite the process of obtaining full victim restitution.
The DA may obtain a warrant for your arrest, without you even knowing the warrant exists. This warrant is reported nationwide. The warrant will be placed on the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). This is a computerized index of criminal justice information (i.e. – criminal record history information, fugitives, stolen properties, missing persons). It is available to Federal, state, and local law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies and is operational 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The first time you will hear about a casino taking action to collect your marker will typically be in a letter from the Clark County DA’s Office bad check unit explaining that the marker must be repaid or you could face prosecution. This is a serious matter since the DA will use all legal tools available to them. The DA, in fact, may immediately advise you in writing that a criminal complaint has been filed and an arrest warrant has been issued.
If you receive a letter indicating that you are being prosecuted, it is critical to call a criminal defense attorney immediately so she can contact the DA’s office. Otherwise a warrant for your arrest will be executed. This means that you can be arrested in any state at any time. If you are out of the country, you may be taken into custody when your return to the United States.
The terms and conditions of payment are negotiable like most criminal cases. It is incumbent to hire a criminal defense attorney that can negotiate accordingly. Discussing with the DA mitigating factors in your case is important. Many of my clients have inquired if they pay the money in full, will they still have a criminal conviction. Since it is so important, for work, immigration, and personal reasons to have your criminal record clear, a dismissal is a must.
Many of my clients who try to resolve this without attorney will have a standard response from the DA that full payment must be received and that a payment plan is not possible. An installment payment is the norm for many individuals so it is gravely important that this be made a condition. While many believe that this type of debt is dischargeable in bankruptcy—it is not.
Can you fight the criminal charges? Of course, there are several defenses to charge of drawing and passing a check with the intent to defraud. But immediate legal representation and certain motions must be filed immediately. While there are constitutional legal questions of the basis for being arrested for a debt, the Nevada Supreme Court has ruled that the money owed to the casino is not treated as debt, but as restitution to the victim in a criminal case.
The court reviewed the bad check scenario in Tuan Ngoc Nguyen vs. State of Nevada (12/14/2000) 95 F.Supp.2d 1126. Nguyen was arrested and charged with passing bad checks at the following Las Vegas gaming resorts: Harrah’s, Luxor, Excalibur and the Flamingo. Nguyen was thereafter convicted on one count of drawing and passing a check without sufficient funds in violation of NRS 205.130(1).
Nguyen was a Texas resident and in December of 1995, he secured gambling credits through the issuance of markers from several licensed Las Vegas gaming establishment. Each followed standard industry procedures with respect to the extension of credit to Nguyen. He later admitted guilt that he committed the crime. But keep in mind, in a bad check prosecution, one of the elements of the crime is that State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to defraud the casino.
A trial is the last resort especially when prison is an option for the judge. Consequently, an effective criminal defense attorney is a prerequisite.