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Gambling Fraud

PC 332 aims to protect innocent persons from being swindled. It makes it illegal to trick somebody else into losing their money. For instance, if a person loses at a Black Jack played ethically, you cannot be found guilty of gambling fraud. Nevertheless, you can be charged with gaming fraud if you use a deck of cards rigged to make another player lose at all times to gain profits. A criminal conviction carries penalties that can damage your life and future. At Pasadena Criminal Attorney, we can stand you throughout your criminal judicial process with dignity, respect, and skills. We are aggressive when we need to be, compassionate when it counts, and dedicated to ensuring you obtain the most favorable case outcome.

Defining Gambling Fraud

PC 332 defines gambling or gaming fraud as fraudulently obtaining another person’s property or money through card games, gambling, tricks, betting, or fortune-telling pretenses. Please note that this statute does not ban bookmaking or gambling. Instead, it makes it a crime using stacked decks, card tricks, and schemes tailored to trick individuals into betting on a “sure thing.’’

Before convicting you, the prosecution must prove the following elements of the offense beyond any reasonable doubt:

  • You fraudulently acquired somebody else’s assets or money, and
  • You acted so through card games like betting, three-card monte, fortune-telling tricks, or sleight of tricks or hands.

As far as this statute is concerned, fraudulently obtained goes beyond cheating. It also includes gaining a prejudicial advantage for a player in a game through devices or techniques not endorsed by the game’s rules.

The legal term “fraudulently” means acting dishonestly or with moral turpitude, lack of integrity, or bad faith. Typically, fraudulent acts are driven by either a desire to escape criminal culpability or financial gain.

Free Speech and Fraudulent Fortune Telling

In addition to prohibiting gambling, California law also bans fraudulent fortune-telling. It can be challenging to establish that an individual participated in fraudulent fortune-telling due to the entitlement to the free speech provisions. Consequently, this right somehow protects fortune tellers.

The prosecution team can consider many factors when deciding whether a defendant participated in fortune-telling. The prosecution can evaluate whether the accused belongs to a religion that believes in different future foretelling methods. If it is apparent that they follow the religion, they will not be charged with gambling fraud.

If there exists proof that the defendant does not believe in their forecasts or that the forecasts are not under their religion, they can face PC 332 charges for fortune-telling. If they do not believe in the predictions, it is apparent that they intend to defraud unsuspicious clients.

Moreover, you cannot be charged with gambling fraud if you post a sign notifying customers that your work is for entertainment purposes.

What is Gambling?

Gambling is staking or betting on something valuable with the consciousness of risk and hope of gaining, on the outcome of a game, a contest, or an uncertain event whose result can be determined by accident or chance or have an unexpected result because of the bettor’s miscalculation.

There are several ways in which individuals engage in gambling. Technological advancements have given rise to new ways of gambling, including online gambling.

Gambling can be classified into arcades, lotteries, gaming machines, casinos, betting, casino, and betting.

California law recognizes the following gaming and gambling platforms:

Horse Races

In California, betting on horse races is lawful at licensed racetracks and off-track betting establishments. This gambling type has to be done as pari-mutuel wagering (a system where all bets are put into a pool). All the establishment’s cuts and taxes are taken from the pool, and the remaining amount is shared among the winning wagers.

Charitable Gambling

Specific non-profit organizations can raise money through charitable gambling events. Every event can last up to five hours and should run once a year. Participants are not permitted to win cash prizes. Instead, their prizes are donated for the fundraiser.

Tribal Casinos

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act allows Indian tribes to operate casinos on their tribal land. These casinos are operated under the agreements between the Native American tribe and California. While California’s legal gambling age is 18, most casinos refuse entry to anyone below twenty-one because they sell alcoholic beverages.

Card Rooms

Card rooms are businesses that allow patrons to gamble via card games. Card rooms are legal in California because the business does not take percentages of the bets made, and players do not play against the bank. Instead, they gain income by:

  • Collecting a portion of the pot from every hand, called a rake
  • Charging each player at regular intervals of thirty minutes

The California Lottery

The state constitution authorizes the California State Lottery. It was created in 1984 following the passage of Prop 37. The law established the California State Lottery Commission, which operates lottery games.

Lottery games have prizes distributed by chance, and opportunities to win the prizes are paid for with consideration. Typically, lottery tickets are scratch-off cards.

Some lottery games specific to California include daily 3, daily 4, hot spot, and super lotto plus.

Games that Break California Gambling Laws

PC 330 bans the percentage games and banking games.

Banking games involve a bank or house that takes part in the game. Generally, the bank collects funds from the losers and distributes them among the winners.

On the other hand, in percentage games, the house collects funds based on the bets made or the amount won.

Poker games are legal, provided players engage in them for profit.

Other gambling games that PC 330 bans by name include:

  • Monte
  • Roulette
  • Faro
  • Rouge et noire
  • Lansquenet
  • Tan
  • Rondo
  • Seven-and-a-half
  • Hokey-pokey
  • Twenty-one

Online gambling is yet unregulated in the Golden State. That means you can still participate in online gambling even when the game is banned in the state. It includes games like 21, blackjack, online sports betting, and online slot machines. 

Typical Types of Gambling Fraud

Discussed below are different types of gaming fraud:

  • Multiple account fraud — Online gambling requires opening a user account. Now and then, players open several accounts for various reasons. Users can be charged with multiple account fraud if they open accounts using counterfeit details.
  • Gnoming — Using many accounts to maximize winnings and bonuses by intentionally losing.
  • Bonus abuse — Generally, most online gambling services provide signup bonuses for new members for promotional purposes. For instance, you can receive a 100% bonus on an initial deposit after joining a bet.
  • Top-up fraud — This happens when a player tops up their account using credentials using a stolen credit card.
  • Top-up abuse — Most betting sites and online casinos offer phone top-ups. As a result, fraudsters can trick people into topping up the fraudster’s balance with the alleged victim’s funds. It is identical to stealing money to fuel your gambling addiction.
  • Chip dumping involves using several accounts to influence your game at a poker table. With several accounts, you can cheat against or in favor of another opponent. The cheating act is gambling fraud.
  • Chargebacks — A request sent to the credit card provider or bank to reverse a top-up a person makes on a gambling site. The fact that the gambling provider will refund the money at their expense makes the conduct fraudulent.

Gambling Fraud Consequences, Penalties, and Sentencing

The criminal consequences attracted by gambling fraud are identical to penalties for petty theft or grand theft. The penalties depend on the monetary worth of the asset you, the defendant, obtain from your victim(s).

If you defraud an individual of property whose worth exceeds $950, the conduct is a California wobbler. A wobbler is an offense that the prosecution can file as a felony or California misdemeanor, depending on the case circumstances.

You will be charged with a misdemeanor if the property or money involved in the gambling scheme is less than $950. It carries the following maximum penalties:

  • Summary (misdemeanor) probation
  • A year in jail
  • One thousand dollars in fines

A felony, on the other hand, attracts:

  • A maximum of three years in California state prison
  • Fines of $5,000 for a first-time crime or $10,000 for your second or subsequent crime
  • Formal (felony) probation

Probation is a sentencing alternative to incarceration that permits defendants to serve their sentence out of police custody. The program aims to protect the public, rehabilitate the defendant, and restore the victim.

Typically, the court imposes probation on juvenile offenders and first-time defendants. However, even individuals with previous convictions can qualify depending on the judge’s evaluation of what the accused will do, given a second chance. Having skilled legal assistance can significantly increase the possibility of receiving probation.

Unlike felony probation, the judge does not request a probation report from the county probation department for misdemeanor probation. Instead, the probationer regularly returns to court to report to the judge on their progress.

Sometimes the defendant can prefer to serve time instead of adhering to the probation terms for many months. The judge cannot force probation on an individual who does not want it. A seasoned criminal attorney can assist you in deciding whether it is sensible to reject the offer.

While the judge has discretion in crafting probation conditions, the terms should be:

  • Logically and reasonably associated with the crime
  • Fitting and proper to the end that they can do justice

If you fail to abide by the terms and conditions of your probation, the judge will schedule a probation revocation hearing where you can explain or deny your violation. Then the judge can:

  • Revoke and reinstate probation on the same terms and conditions
  • Modify your conditions
  • Revoke probation entirely and order you to serve time for the underlying crime

Fighting Gambling Fraud Criminal Charges

Below are legal defenses you can use to challenge your Penal Code Section 332 PC.

You Did Not Have Fraudulent Intent

One of the elements of this crime is that the defendant acted fraudulently. Therefore, you can raise a defense that you did not act fraudulently. Probably, for instance, you were joking when you cheated at a card game.

Free Speech

Typically, this legal defense applies to fortune-telling acts. If an astrologer or fortune teller complies with a religion that believes in foretelling the future, they cannot be charged with PC 332 for taking funds to read fortunes. In this case, the fortune teller can exercise their right to free religion, expression, and speech.

Entrapment

The defense strategy applies if you are charged with gambling fraud following an undercover sting operation. Law enforcers cannot lure suspects into violating laws during operations.

The luring is called entrapment, and it applies to illegal and domineering official behavior of the police like:

  • Fraud,
  • Threats,
  • Flattery,
  • Harassment, or
  • Pressure.

Entrapment is a valid defense provided you prove you only violated the law due to entrapment.

Related Offenses

Below are some of the crimes that can be charged alongside or in place of gaming fraud.

Illegal Gambling

Penal Code Section 330 PC makes it an offense when an individual gambles in a percentage or banking game. Illegal gambling is a less severe charge than PC 332. It is a California misdemeanor that carries a six-month county jail sentence.

Check Fraud

Check fraud (PC 476) makes it an offense when you make, pass, or write a fraudulent or counterfeit check. It is a California wobbler punishable by the same penalties and consequences as gambling fraud.

Bookmarking, Pool-Selling, and Wagering

Under Penal Code Section 337a, it is an offense to engage in activities like:

  • Pool-selling
  • Bookmaking
  • Occupying a room, building, or enclosed area for recording bets
  • Holding, forwarding, or receiving funds or valuable items that are being staked in a bet

If you commit gambling fraud while acting so in a space used for recording bets, the prosecution can charge you with both PC 337a and PC 332.

Your Rights When Dealing With the Police

The police’s job is to serve and protect the public and make arrests. When officers stop you or even knock on your door, they believe you have details that will help make the arrest. Should you talk to the cops? Should you allow them to search your workplace or home? And what occurs if you fail to act so?

Here are factors and rules to consider before and when talking to the officers.

  • Understand consent — If an officer does not suspect you of committing a crime, you do not have to submit to their search or answer questions. Nevertheless, if you consent, you agree to speak with the officer or their search, and they can use the information you provide against you.
  • No Miranda required — If the cops have not detained or prevented you from leaving, the law enforcer can ask questions without reading your Miranda warnings. The details you give can or will be used against you. Law enforcers should read Miranda warnings to suspects before interrogating them and putting them in police custody.
  • If a defendant is not in police custody, they can delay answering questions by asking the police to return at another time. It can give the accused a chance to learn more about California criminal law, consult an attorney, or deal with police officers.
  • You are free to talk to the police officer, and there are numerous reasons why it might be in your best interest to act so. However, any information you give can and will be used against you in a court of law. Also, if the officers enter your home or workplace with your consent and see the contraband or proof of your crime that is in plain view, the cops can seize it and use it in your criminal proceedings, even though they did not possess a search warrant.

How to Work With an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

Most Pasadena defendants are unaccustomed to criminal laws, do not know their rights, and how to beat their charges, and hence make life-altering mistakes. Having the right defense attorney can make all the difference when accused of gaming fraud. However, having a defense attorney is not enough. Your conduct also significantly affects how much your legal counsel can assist you.

Here is what you should know about the best practices of working with your lawyer.

Contact a Lawyer as Soon as Possible

There is more stress in your life than being arrested and interrogated. Instead of going through that alone, ensure you have a competent lawyer by your side. If you have retained a lawyer, it is better to do so now than never.

You are not a legal expert and can easily take steps that can hurt your case, like missing a court hearing or making admissions.

Comply With Your Attorney’s Advice

You will undoubtedly receive unsolicited advice from your loved ones when charged with an offense. While they have your best interest at heart, the outcome of taking the advice is often negative.

You might not always understand why your attorney asks you to avoid or take specific actions. You should not hesitate to ask questions if something seems insensible to you. Failure to adhere to your lawyer’s advice can jeopardize your life, case, and freedom.

Answer Your Attorney’s Questions Completely and Honestly

It can be challenging to reveal the case facts to your lawyer. You are putting your future in a stranger’s hands, and naturally, you want the legal professional to think well of you. However, the last thing you want is for the attorney to be blindsided during negotiations with the prosecutor or in court.

The legal counsel does not expect you to be flawless. All they need is for you to be frank to build your defense.

Additionally, the attorney-client privilege protects all conversations between you and your lawyer. The rule protects the confidentiality of your communications.

Finally, identify your legal objectives and communicate the same to your legal advocate. If you are contemplating a plea bargain, you should tell the attorney what legal consequences are vital for you to avoid.

Do Not Discuss the Legal Matter With Any people Other Than Your Lawyer

This is one piece of advice that defendants often disregard. There are several ways conversations about criminal charges can haunt your cases.

While your discussions with loved ones are innocent, you should understand that these conversations are not confidential. Additionally, if the prosecutor learns about the talks, they can force your relatives or friends to testify against you.

Likewise, it is vital to avoid discussing the case facts on social media platforms or in any context where whatever you say can be documented and used against you later.

Stay in Constant Communication With the Criminal Defense Attorney

With so much at stake, you would not think a defendant would be prompted to respond to their lawyer’s calls or communicate with them timely. Regrettably, most clients are slow to pass along essential information like contact details and witness names. The legal counsel will require your cooperation and participation to build your defense and represent you effectively.

Be in Your Best Character in Court

Your attorney will advise you where to be, when you should be there, what to expect, and how to dress. Ensure you abide by this advice for all your court proceedings.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you are facing gambling fraud charges, you are probably worried about serving time and maintaining your employment and quality of life. It is natural to have many questions concerning your rights, future, freedom, and career. Below are some of the commonly asked questions about gambling fraud.

  1. What is Bail?

Bail is the amount you post with the court to secure your release from detention as you await trial. Its purpose is to assure that you will comply with your release conditions and attend court hearings. Generally, the bail amount is determined based on factors like the criminal record, the severity of the crime, and whether you are a flight risk. You can contact a bail bond agent if you cannot afford the entire amount. The bondsman will post the amount on your behalf after you pay a non-refundable premium of 10%.

  1. Should You Take a Plea Bargain?

A plea bargain is an agreement between the prosecutor and the defendant where the accused pleads no contest or guilty in return for less severe charges or penalties. Whether to take the prosecutor’s offer depends on your case facts. You can determine whether plea negotiations are in your best interests through sound legal counsel and careful deliberation. Your defense lawyer should negotiate favorable terms with the prosecution.

Contact a Competent Fraud Defense Attorney Near Me

You should secure skilled legal representation if you have been charged with gambling fraud. An accusation alone can negatively affect your professional and personal reputation, while a conviction can result in fines, stigma, and incarceration. For many years, Pasadena Criminal Attorney has brought thousands of clients reliable legal assistance that assists them to feel confident throughout the criminal judicial system. When you contact us, we will treat your case with the seriousness it deserves and can treat you with care and respect. We can listen to your side of the story, collect evidence, and interview witnesses to develop the most viable legal strategy. Please contact us at 626-689-2277 to schedule your initial free consultation.

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