California is among the 48 states that are fair to the gambling and gaming industry. According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, about 85% of US citizens have engaged in online or offline gambling activities in their lives. Since gambling is a much-loved activity, it contributes approximately $138 billion every year to the US economy. Around 730,000 workers are directly absorbed in the gaming industry.
Since 2008, the Department of Justice Bureau has controlled gambling activities in California. The bureau, in 2008, created an act that detailed regulations and limitations, which would control the gambling issue. The primary goal of the 2008 Act was to assure gaming integrity and shield the gambling world from illicit and unethical deals.
Additionally, California law includes possible punishment for persons who commit fraud crimes through fraudulently obtaining money or property from another person.
California law doesn’t make gambling illegal. However, California Penal Code 332 explains particular conduct, which could result in gambling fraud. These conducts include tricking the public into losing their money or property, money laundering, or causing damage and harm during gambling sessions.
Getting charged with gambling could happen unknowingly or knowingly. You need to engage the Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm and have a lawyer to represent you in court. We have a proven track record of helping clients in Orange County, and the larger Orange County area, have their gambling fraud cases dismissed.
What Does Gambling Involve?
Gambling refers to the activity of consenting, recording, registering stakes, or performing a policy game. Also, gambling involves performing lotteries, playing games of chances in exchange for either property or money.
You engage in gambling when you bet or risk a valuable item with the hope of winning, even if you have no control over the outcome. This means in gaming, genuine transactions are non-existent. There is no selling and buying of commodities; there are no contracts of indemnity nor any form of insurance.
You want, before engaging in any form of gambling, to know the specific definitions of legal gambling according to your state. Differentiating between legal and illegal gambling avoids possible criminal charges against you.
While in particular states, using the internet for gaming is prohibited, in others, amateur gambling in your house is illegal.
Normal Legal Gambling
The legal age for a person to engage in gambling activities in many states is 21 years. You must be above the age of 18 for you to attend horse tracks and participate in state lotteries.
Most states allow video poker, casinos, and charitable betting. The statutes may require you to use the gambling machines out of the states. If you are over 18 years of age, the state can allow you, upon getting licensed, to start gambling businesses like charitable betting, bingo, and raffles. You must confirm with the authorities if you are allowed to engage in gambling activities.
Racetracks and Social Gambling
There exist public events that involve betting on the tracks like dog races and horse racing competitions. Here, your stake on a number that associates with the particular animal. These types of gambling events are usually legal in the US.
Social gambling, too, usually is legal. Here is where you gather with your friends to celebrate and engage in betting activities like poker. You don’t commit any fraud crime since these activities involve a smaller group, and no entry fee is required.
Illegal Social Gambling
While many social gambling events are legitimate, some could lead to your arrest. Examples of these include animal fighting events and where the entry fee is needed. Other illegal social gambling events are the result of the death or injuries of the animals.
Gambling Laws in California
All types of gambling and gaming activities are regulated in California. According to the California Gambling Control Commission, there are illegal and legitimate forms of gambling.
What Forms of Gambling Do California Law Recognize?
California is one of the states that allows controlled gambling. The kind of gambling recognized include:
The California Lottery is under the state’s management. Games played here are SuperLotto Plus and Mega Millions.
Bingo is the only game allowed in charitable gambling. The proceeds from legal charitable gaming must go to charities/ donations. The law allows charity organizations to participate in gambling activities too.
Pari-mutuel Horse Wagering
Pari-mutuel is another name for mutual. Mutual gambling is a betting activity where participants’ stakes are pooled, and the players play against each other. The winners get their share after the host deducts management fees and taxes. California law permits pari-mutuel gambling only in horse racing.
In a casino, you find an array of banked games like slot machines, bingo, blackjack, and poker. California law limits these to Tribal Casinos situated on Indian Land.
Card clubs and casinos have a lot in common. In card clubs, players must pay to play. This means there is no pooling of money to distribute among the winners at the end of the game. Also, players battle against each other and not against the house.
What Kinds of Gambling are Prohibited Under California Law?
Participating, performing, hosting, dealing, or organizing any of the gaming activities below is illegal under California Penal Code 330 PC:
Faro and Monte
Roulette. California law prohibits roulette as the outcome hangs on dice and balls. If caught playing the traditional roulette, you are charged with gambling fraud.
Lansquenet and Rouge et Noire
Tan and Fan-tan
Twenty-one and Hokey-pokey
Banking and any percentage game played using dice or cards
What Is the Legal Definition of Gambling Fraud in California?
Under California law, it is a crime to receive property or money in fraudulent ways through:
California statutes do not ban bookmarking and gambling. Instead, California’s gaming fraud law does not allow the use of stacked decks, card games, and gaming schemes meant to lure people into betting and scam them.
According to Penal Code 332 PC, gambling fraud refers to the fraudulent gaining of either money or property from another person through games like three-card monte, gadgets, tricks, or skillful deception, betting, sleight of hand, and pretending to predict fortunes.
Speaking of fraudulent gains, the offender is intentionally dishonest, they are deceitful, and they lack integrity. Also, gaming fraud occurs when the offender cheats and refuses to follow the legitimate rules of the game.
If you win money in a card game devoid of using tricks, sleight of hand, or cheating, then you are not subject to a fraud crime.
Another gaming strategy that is considered as fraud is where the offender gains property or money from another person. Here, capital refers to tokens and poker chips with monetary worth allotted to them.
Fraudulent Fortune-Telling and Free Speech
Penal Code 332 PC prohibits any form of fraudulent fortune-telling. Fortune-telling is under a different category from betting and card games.
It is a big challenge to prove that fortune-telling is fraudulent. The reason for this is that the constitution allows freedom of free speech, and to some extent, the right to free speech defends fortune-tellers.
Take, for example, a fortune-teller who sticks by their beliefs religiously, and they receive money after foreseeing fortunes of another person. The law considers the astrologer not guilty of fraud crimes for gaining money through fortune-telling.
Another instance where a fortune teller is not guilty of fraudulent fortune-telling is when they include a disclaimer sign telling customers that the foreseeing is meant for entertainment purposes.
But the astrologer is guilty of violating PC 332 in that they have no faith in their predictions, and their primary intent is to defraud unknowing clients. In this event, the fortune teller subjects themselves to criminal liability.
The juror cannot convict you for a gambling fraud crime until the prosecution can prove several elements of the offense like:
Another person lost their money or property through your gambling activities
You had the intent to obtain money fraudulently in gaming activities that are allowed by California law
You are a fortune-teller who collects money for foreseeing fortunes of others, but you don't believe in fortune-telling activities
What Are the Penalties for Gambling Fraud in California?
Under California law, punishment for gambling fraud is similar to that of California petty and grand theft. The weight of punishment hangs on the monetary value, which the offender receives after a crime commission.
For example, if you gain money or property valued at $950 and above, you subject yourself to a wobbler crime. Depending on the prosecution, the court can turn your wobbler crime to either a felony or a misdemeanor.
If the property or money fraudulently gained is below $950, you are charged with a California misdemeanor.
Gaming Fraud as a Felony
The possible punishment of the dishonest gain of money through felony gaming fraud is:
Felony/ formal probation
Jail-time in a county jail for 16 months, two years, or three years. while still in jail, you undertake a California realignment program
A fine not exceeding $5,000 if it’s a first offense
A fine of $10,000 or less if it’s a second or recurring criminal offense
Gaming Fraud as a Misdemeanor
The possible penalties for gaining money fraudulently through gaming fraud in California as a misdemeanor include:
Summary/ misdemeanor probation
Jail time not exceeding six months if the value of property or money fraudulently gained doesn’t exceed $950
Jail time for a period between six months but not more than one year if the worth of property gained illegally is over $950
A fine that doesn’t exceed $1,000
What Are the Possible Defenses for A California Gambling Fraud Case?
When charged with a gambling fraud crime, you want to seek the advice of a competent criminal defense lawyer. Your attorney is in the best position to tell possible defenses for your charges.
Many gambling fraud offenders feel like card tricks are nothing while the penalties are harsh. You don’t want to serve jail time of two years for a game of cards.
You Lacked Fraudulent Intent
Before the jurors can sentence you in a California law, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had fraudulent intentions.
You Gambling Activity Was a Charitable Event
It is legal to hold gambling activities if the proceeds are funneled to charity. Allowed games for charity are raffles, bingo, and poker. Note that internet gambling is not permissible even for charity.
You Were Exercising Your Right to Free Speech
The first amendment to the US Constitution protects you when charged with fraudulent gambling like fortune-telling for profits. The protection occurs in the context that you are exercising your right to free speech.
Illegal Police Raid
While gambling in your house is illegal, especially if you are doing it for a profit, the law enforcers have no right to storm in your home without a search warrant.
Should this happen to you, you lawyer can argue the case based on this defense and have all your gaming property return and charges dropped,
Criminal Offenses Related to Gambling Fraud
Grand Theft – California Penal Code Section 487 PC
California law refers to grand theft as taking another person’s property using illegal means. The property must have a monetary value of $950 or above.
Grand theft charges result in many problems, especially to your personal and professional life. It is also unfortunate that the law permits charges against your grand theft offense to get filed if you have committed crimes that appear minor.
Criminal offenses that can be considered as a violation of the California Penal Code Section 487 PC include:
Burglary crimes where you take away household goods worth thousands of dollars
Mismanagement of your employer’s funds amounting to thousands of dollars
Stealing a $1000 piece of jewelry from a seller
Penalties for Violating California Penal Code Section 487 PC
Many courts in California consider grand theft crimes as wobblers. This means committing a grand theft offense could subject you to a felony grand theft or a misdemeanor charge.
If your grand theft crime is considered a misdemeanor, you attract a jail time of a period not exceeding one year.
You could face 16 months, two years, or three years of jail time if the prosecution charges you with felony grand theft.
Possible Legal Defenses for Grand Theft Charges
You want to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer in California if you’re charged with a grand theft offense. Your lawyer knows what defenses they could present in court for your release of lowering charges.
Potential legal defenses include:
The property you are charged for stealing is yours
The plaintiff accused you falsely
The owner of the property offered you the item you are charged with stealing
You had no intentions of stealing
Petty Theft – California Penal Code Section 484 PC
You subject yourself to a petty theft offense in California if you take another person’s property and keep it as your own in an illegitimate manner.
The prosecution must prove some elements of the crime before the tutor can convict you. These elements include:
You stole property belonging to someone else and possessed it as your own
You had not permission from the owner to take their property
You intended to deny the property owner their lawful right and enjoyment when stealing the property
You transferred the property to another location, however small, and hid it for a particular time – from hours to years.
Possible Penalties for Petty Theft Crimes
Under California law, petty theft is a misdemeanor. And, a petty theft misdemeanor attracts penalties like:
Jail time of a period not exceeding six months in a county jail
A fine that doesn’t exceed $1,000
A summary/ misdemeanor in place of imprisonment
Legal Defenses to PC 484 Charges
With the help of a competent defense lawyer, you could raise a criminal defense if charged with petty theft. The attorney could help to have your criminal charges lowered or dismissed.
Possible defenses for your petty theft case are:
You are the rightful owner of the property you are accused of stealing
You had the owner’s consent when taking their property
You had sought permission from the owner before taking the property
Theft by False Pretenses – California Penal Code Section 532 PC
In California, the criminal offense of theft by pretense involves lying to another person to lure them into giving you their money or valuable property.
Here, you convince another person to give you their money after telling them something that is not true or making false promises.
The majority assume that theft involves taking another person's property, contrary to their wish. A lawyer could explain at in-depth that theft by false pretenses relates closely to theft crimes like shoplifting and grand theft auto.
Potential Penalties If Convicted for Theft by False Pretenses
The prosecution can consider your theft by pretense crime as either a grand or petty theft. The prosecutor’s decision hands on the worth of the property you stole.
Punishment for Petty Theft
Your criminal offense is considered a petty theft if you stole goods other than livestock, certain agricultural products, a car, or a firearm. Also, the value of the property stolen must not exceed $950.
Under California law, petty theft is considered a misdemeanor. And, possible penalties for violating Penal Code 532 PC are:
Jail time in a county jail for a period not exceeding six months
A fine not exceeding $1,000
Punishment for Grand Theft
If through your theft by false pretenses crime you obtain property like a firearm, a car, or which has a value of over $950, then you violate Penal Code 487 PC.
Under California law, grand theft crimes are wobblers. Usually, with wobblers, the prosecution can choose to charge you with a felony or a misdemeanor. The decision is arrived at after assessing your criminal history.
If your grand theft is considered a misdemeanor, then you could serve jail time, not more than one year.
If the prosecution considers your grand theft as a felony, you could serve jail time of 16 months, two years or even three years in county jail.
Your grand theft would remain a felony crime if you stole a firearm.
Possible Legal Defenses Theft by False Pretense
California law classifies theft by pretense under serious crimes. Because, unlike other theft crimes, theft by false pretense entails complex facts.
Hiring an experienced defense lawyer in California could help you build defenses against your charges. These legal defenses include:
Lack of Intent to Deceive
In California, you cannot get convicted for theft by pretense before the prosecutor proves beyond a reasonable doubt that you had the intent to deceive.
Additionally, the prosecution must prove that you hid vital information with the intent of misleading the plaintiff.
Also, the prosecution must prove that you recklessly claimed that something was right without your knowledge or didn’t keep your promise.
Lack of Reliance
It is such a challenge for the prosecution to prove that the plaintiff relied on your false pretense to offer you their valuable property. The problem comes in where the prosecution cannot tell the plaintiff's motives, and this could work to your benefit.
If you hire a competent lawyer, you could have your charges dropped or reduced owing to a lack of reliance. Your attorney can help you prove to the court that the plaintiff didn’t rely on your misleading statements.
Find an Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm Near Me
We invite you to contact our Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm the instant you are charged with gambling fraud. We have attorneys with many years of experience in California criminal law and different fraud cases. Our criminal defense lawyers are conversant with gambling laws in California, and we have helped many individuals with their gambling cases.
We are ready to listen to your side of the story, schedule an official meeting to offer the best advice on how to approach your case. Call us today at 714-740-7848 to speak to a criminal defense attorney.