Constitutionality of Prosecuting Casino Markers

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Most criminal defense attorneys have, at some point and time, griped about the legalities of the District Attorney’s Office prosecuting marker cases on the behalf of the casinos. Negotiations in most marker cases include a dismissal at the conclusion of the case once the money has been paid in full or through a reasonable settlement proposal. The end result? As long as the money is paid, then the Defendant will not have a criminal conviction on his/her record. In some respects, it could be argued that the prosecuting agency becomes the most formidable of collection agencies.

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Possibly effecting the Constitutionality of Prosecuting Casino Markers, On September 10, 2013, the Nevada Supreme Court will be hearing the case Zahavi v. State, which will directly address many of the concerns raised by the prosecution of unpaid casino markers.

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In that case, Harel Zahavi was convicted of obtaining $384,000 in cash advances from October 2008 through December 2008. He obtained said cash advances by using 14 different casino markers at multiple casinos in Las Vegas. After the debts went unpaid, the casinos submitted the markers for payment, even knowing the funds were not available. Because there were insufficient funds to cover these transactions, they were returned by the bank as unpaid. Accordingly, pursuant to NRS 205.130, the casinos forwarded these unpaid markers to the Clark County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution. Mr. Zahavi was ultimately convicted and subsequently appealed his conviction. In his appeal, Mr. Zahavi raises three distinct issues, with the most compelling issue challenging the constitutionality of NRS 205.130. The other two issues address jury instructions offered at the time of trial as they relate to the casinos knowledge of the insufficient funds and whether or not a marker is converted to a post-dated contract when held by the casino.

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Although a decision on this case will likely not be made for some time, it could potentially change if and how casino marker cases are prosecuted in the future.

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