California Penal Code Section 332 PC: Obtaining Money by Fraud Through Gaming

1. Definition and Elements of the Crimegaming fraud

Certain classic card tricks, schemes and other scams are designed to trick people into betting on a “sure thing” and subsequently losing their money. Many people do not realize that card-monte schemes, tricks and sure-thing games, as well as fortune telling, is against the law in California. Under California Penal Code Section 332 PC, obtaining money by fraud through gaming is a serious crime that can lead to felony prosecution and conviction.

To prove that a defendant is guilty of obtaining money by fraud through gaming, a prosecutor must establish the following elements:

  1. The defendant, by use of cards, device, or pretentious fortune telling, or by any other means whatsoever, tricked another person.

  2. The defendant fraudulently obtained money or property from that other person.

For the purposes of this statute, “fraudulently obtained” includes, cheating or otherwise gaining an unfair advantage for any player in a game through a technique or device not sanctioned by the rules of the game.

Additionally, for the purpose of establishing the value of property in this section, poker chips, token and markers have the monetary value assigned to them by the players in the game.

2. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. Grand TheftCalifornia Penal Code Section 487 PC

  2. Petty TheftCalifornia Penal Code Section 484 PC

  3. Theft by False PretensesCalifornia Penal Code Section 532 PC
3. Examples

A group of friends operate a three card monte scheme that they set up in crowded public spaces. One man will shift cards around and lull members of the public into believing that they are betting on a sure thing. They increase the crowd’s confidence by having members of the group posted in the crowd who appear to be winning money. In reality, they are operating a trick and anyone betting has no chance of winning any money. Many unsuspecting victims bet on the rigged card game and lose substantially. The members of the group can be charged with obtaining money by fraud through gaming in violation of California Penal Code Section 332 PC.

In another example, a fortune teller operates a business in which she claims to be able to read palms and tell her clients’ future. The fortune teller has a small notice posted in the window of her business stating that “All readings are for entertainment purposes only.” This fortune teller probably would not be violating California Penal Code Section 332 PC because of the explicit warning, however there may be circumstances where her conduct does violate this law, especially where a victim loses substantial amounts of money.

4. Defenses to Obtaining Money by Fraud through Gaming

As noted above, there may be a valid First Amendment free speech defense for defendants charged with providing fortune telling services. This is especially the case where potential clients are alerted that the services are for entertainment purposes. However, there may be circumstances where fortune tellers can be criminally liable under this statute, if their conduct goes beyond mere “entertainment” and actually involves massive fraud.

5. Penalties

Obtaining money by fraud through gaming is a “wobbler” offense that can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. If charged as a felony, a defendant can be sentenced to up to three years in prison if convicted. If charged as a misdemeanor, a defendant can be sentenced to up to a year in jail in addition to any other conditions of probation a judge may impose. In either case, the defendant would have to pay back any money obtained fraudulently to the victim through restitution.

6. Criminal Defense for Obtaining Money by Fraud through Gaming Cases

Obtaining money by fraud through gaming is a serious crime that can result in a felony conviction. If you or a loved one are facing charges for this offense, it is very important that you consult with a knowledgeable Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer immediately. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut knows how best to defend clients charged with crimes of this nature. Mr. Kraut works hard to ensure his clients receive the best defense possible.

For more information about obtaining money by fraud through gaming, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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