A "trick roll" is a scheme that uses a false promise of sex for money in order to scam a would-be "John." In other words, the customer, otherwise known as a "trick," is "rolled," or scammed/robbed by the prostitute.
Prostitution itself is a minor crime. Individuals can rack up dozens of prostitution charges without ever spending substantial time in jail. But in Las Vegas, participation in a trick roll can lead to much more serious charges, and may even result in possible prison time. Read below about the various crimes commonly associated with trick rolls, the possible penalties for each, and how a criminal defense attorney can help someone facing these charges.
Essentially, larceny from the person is taking money or property from another person without using physical violence or the threat of violence. If force is used to take the property, then the crime becomes a robbery, a more serious crime. Specifically, according to NRS 205.270, larceny from the person is "taking property from person of another under circumstances not amounting to robbery." This statute covers any "pick-pocketing" scenario. So in a trick roll case, someone might be charged with larceny from the person if she steals a customer's wallet, money, or other property, such as casino chips or jewelry.
Larceny from the person is a felony. How serious of a felony will depend upon the value of the property allegedly taken. Under NRS 205.270(1)(a), if the value of the property is less than $3,500, then the charge is category C felony, which is punishable by 1 to 5 years in a Nevada prison, as well as a $10,000 fine. Under NRS 205.270(1)(b), if the value of the property is $3,500 or more, then the offense is a category B felony, punishable by 1 to 10 years in a Nevada prison and a $10,000 fine.
Whether larceny from the person is treated as a category B felony or category C felony, the offense is ordinarily a probationable offense. This means that any prison sentence that is imposed can be suspended and the convicted defendant may be placed on probation. There is one exception to this, however. If the alleged victim is elderly or disabled, the convicted person must be sentenced to prison. Specifically, NRS 205.270(3) states that the court "shall not grant probation to" any person convicted of larceny from the person "if the person from whom the property was taken has any infirmity caused by age or other physical condition."
Note that if the money or property is not taken from the person's body (e.g., a wallet is taken but not out of the trick's pocket) then the charge will be simply larceny rather than larceny from the person. Larceny is a misdemeanor if the value of the property is under $650, and a felony if the value of the property is $650 or over.
Often in trick roll cases, the John is sedated with drugs to aid the theft of property. Many different drugs are used, and are frequently added to alcoholic drinks. Commonly used drugs include benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax) and GHB, which increase intoxication when taken with alcohol, and often lead to blackout. However, many people are not aware that administering drugs to a victim to help commit a crime can lead to a serious criminal charge.
NRS 200.405 makes it a crime to administer a drug to aid the commission of a felony. Specifically, a person violates this statute by giving another person "any chloroform, ether, laudanum, or any controlled substance, anesthetic, or intoxicating or emetic agent" with the intent to aid her in the commission of a felony.
Administering a drug to aid a felony is a category B felony. The possible punishment range, if a person is convicted of this crime, is 1 to 10 years in a Nevada prison. The offense is probationable at the sentencing judge's discretion.
Note that a person only commits this crime if she intents to commit a felony by administering a drug. Therefore, if the underlying crime is not a felony, then a person has not committed this crime. An example should help clarify the distinction. Let's say a man meets a working girl in a Las Vegas hotel bar. The two discuss an exchange of money for sex. The two then return to the man's hotel room, where the working girl drops a few doses of liquid GHB into the would-be John's drink, unbeknownst to him. He then passes out. She steals his wallet out of his pocket. She has committed the crime of larceny from the person. And since larceny from the person is a felony, she has also committed the crime of administering a drug to aid the commission of a felony. If instead the working girl had taken less than $650 in casino chips from the man's nightstand, she would only have committed misdemeanor theft. Note, however, she might also be charged with burglary if the prosecutor could prove that she entered into the casino with the intent to commit a theft or some felony.
A robbery is one of the more serious crimes commonly associated with a trick roll. In a typical scenario, the working girl might lure a would-be John to a hotel room, where another individual might be waiting, often with a gun, to commit the robbery.
A robbery involves taking property from another person with the use of physical violence or the threat of physical violence. In many instances, a robbery charge can lead to serious prison time. To read more details about the crime of robbery, click here.
Many times, a working girl will not understand that she can be found guilty of a robbery even if she is not the person who threatens the John or uses violence against him to get his property. In a typical trick roll robbery scenario, the working girl can be held liable for the actions of the person who actually uses threats or violence against the victim either through conspiracy liability or through aiding and abetting liability.
Both legal theories are similar. In conspiracy liability, if a person enters into an agreement with another person to commit a crime, each party to the conspiracy is liable for the crimes of the other party, so long as each crime would be foreseeable by the other party. Aiding and abetting means that a person helps another person to commit a certain crime. Regardless of which theory is applied (and in many cases, both theories of liability will apply), a working girl who enters into a conspiracy to commit a trick roll robbery or who aids another to commit this crime will herself be guilty of robbery.
If you have been charged with any crime associated with a trick roll, you should contact an attorney. It is always the prosecutor's burden to prove the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt, and a defense lawyer will be able to evaluate the facts of your case and decide whether to push forward for a preliminary hearing or trial, or to enter into a plea negotiation.
In felony trick roll cases, sometimes it is best to set the matter for a preliminary hearing to see if any of the state's witnesses show up. As you may know, the state's case becomes very difficult to prove (if not impossible) without cooperating witnesses. Other times, if the evidence is strong, and the alleged victim is cooperating with the prosecution, then sometimes it is best to work out a deal. As with any criminal case, the decision to push forward or take a deal is based on a careful look at the facts of the case.
If you have been charged with participating in a trick roll or any other crime in Las Vegas or anywhere else in Southern Nevada, I can help you resolve your case. Call me today for a free consultation.
By Michael Pandullo