Basically, the jury instruction (CALCRIM 2990) for this says that every person who lays, makes, offers or accepts any bet or wager upon the result or purported result or purported result of any contest or purported contest of skill, speed or power of endurance of a human being or a beast or between humans or beasts or mechanical apparatus is guilty of a violation of Penal Code Section 337A crime.
To give readers a better understanding of bookmarking, pool-selling, and wagering laws, our California criminal defense attorneys are providing an overview below.
Effort to Curtail Illegal Betting
They cover a lot in that jury instruction. What they're trying to account for are situations like cock fighting where people are fighting roosters for example, or even dog fighting, and of course, they can get you for animal cruelty under that Section as well.
But what they're really trying to do is curtail betting, especially in Los Angeles. There are some places where you can place bets that are legal — a licensed location that the authorities monitor. But they really don't want people betting. They just think morality-wise that that does not breed or lead to a good society.
I've seen them knocking over — when I say knocking over, I mean raiding locations that are poker institutes where people are playing poker for money. Usually, they don't mess around with home games unless they find out about it and there's high stakes.
Another thing that I've seen lately is that a lot of these home games are being robbed. People are finding out about it, coming in with guns and taking all the money, jewelry and any other valuables.
They're probably thinking that the people won't call the police because they're going to have to explain to the police that they're involved in a poker game. Usually, the police don't really care that much about stopping home poker games.
High-Stakes Gambling and Illegal Activity
But again, if there's high stakes, a lot of money or a lot of other stuff going on — for example, sometimes some of these games have prostitution activities and other illegal activities — then the police will get involved.
And of course, sometimes people will carry these betting operations too far, have slot machines in there, poker games, roulette wheels and then all the other stuff that goes along with gambling — prostitution, alcohol — now the police are going to get involved.
They'll find out about these places and then they'll raid them and arrest everybody in there. They can get them for the illegal betting. They can get them for prostitution and whatever other crimes they believe are being committed in there.
So, if you're charged with betting pursuant to Penal Code Section 337, you definitely want to get an attorney. It's not a usual crime. In other words, I don't see it filed a lot. Usually, the authorities don't get involved especially if it's small-stakes betting. They don't want to waste their time with that.
Negotiation with Prosecutor to Avoid Conviction
So, if they've arrested your or charged you with this particular Penal Code Section then you obviously want to get an attorney. Maybe there's something that can be done so that you can avoid a conviction is the situation is not such that it makes sense to saddle somebody with a conviction and punish them and put them through the court system.
Maybe just a warning is necessary. Again, you have to look at the situation. You have to look at the person's criminal history ad you've got to look at the reason why the person was arrested and the surrounding circumstances. Was it part of some big gambling scheme or was it just some small thing and the person just got unlucky that the police happened upon it. So again, it depends on the circumstances.
Your best bet is to pick up the phone, make the call. We'll sit down and go over everything, get our strategy together so when we go to court we're ready, I'm prepared to deal with the prosecutors and deal with your case in a very effective manner.
Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. We are also located at 633 West Fifth Street Los Angeles, CA 90071. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0979.