Used someone’s debit card on a night out by mistake, what do I do?

I’m quite worried about what will happen. I’ve asked a lot of my friends what I should do and they have all given me mixed opinions. I was at the casino in the city I live in earlier this week. After a few hours of drinking, the friend that I was with handed me a card that was on the floor in the smoking room of the casino. He thought that I dropped it. At the time of this I was quite drunk and didn’t bother to check if it was my card or not. Throughout the night we bought a few rounds of drinks on it and then on the way home stopped off at several service stations to purchase cigarettes, as the card I thought was mine. I didn’t realize until I was nearly home that it in fact wasn’t my card at all. I’ve tried to contact people on Facebook who live in the area with the same name to see if I could perhaps find them and sort the issue out one on one. I’m terrified to go to the police because I’ve never had a criminal record nor even thought about committing a crime.

Asked on May 26, 2017 under Criminal Law, Alaska


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If you did not have any intention of using the card, then what you did was not a crime: crimes are based on intent as much as on actions, and doing something innocently by mistake is not criminal. However, you would be liable civilly to repay the money, since a lack of criminal intent still does not let you use another person's money. The casino's customer service department can probably help locate their other customer: you could go to them, ask for their help, and explain that you want to return the card and repay the individual for all of the things you purchased on this. 

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