Penal Code 337a PC | Bookmaking/Pool-Selling/Wagering


Penal Code 337a PC | Bookmaking/Pool-Selling/Wagering in California

Hey there! If your reading this, you probably got accused of illegal gambling or bookmaking in California. That means the cops think you broke Penal Code 337a PC, the law against bookmaking, pool-selling, and illegal sports wagering. I know, it sounds scary. But don’t worry! This article will explain everything you need to know about 337a charges in plain English, so you can understand what’s happening and get the best defense.

What is Penal Code 337a?

In a nutshell, 337a makes it a crime to engage in certain gambling activities related to sports betting. There’s a bunch of different ways you can get charged:

  • Placing bets on sports with a bookmaker
  • Operating as a bookmaker and taking bets from others
  • Keeping a gambling house for sports bets
  • Recording or registering bets on sports
  • Making, printing, or selling materials for recording sports bets

As you can see, the law is super broad when it comes to sports gambling. It even covers things like printing betting sheets and owning gambling equipment like cards or dice. The main goal is to crack down on organized gambling operations, including online sportsbooks.

Penalties for Breaking Penal Code 337a

A first offense for illegal bookmaking is a misdemeanor in California. That means up to 1 year in county jail and/or a fine up to $1,000. But if you have a prior gambling conviction, then it becomes a felony with up to 3 years in state prison. Yikes!

Prosecutors often pile on additional charges too, like money laundering or criminal conspiracy if you operated a large betting ring. Then your looking at way more jail time.

Legal Defenses to 337a Charges

The good news is there are solid defenses that could get your charges reduced or dismissed. Here’s a few common ones:

  • Lack of evidence – If the cops don’t have enough proof you broke the law, the case could get thrown out.
  • No “specific intent” – Gambling charges require you intended to operate a gambling business, which is hard to prove.
  • Entrapment – This applies when police coerced you into committing a crime you otherwise wouldn’t.
  • Mistake of fact – You made an honest mistake and thought your gambling activities were legal.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can evaluate the evidence against you and build the strongest defense to fight the charges. Don’t go it alone against the prosecutors!

Recent Changes to Sports Betting Laws

There’s been some major changes lately on the legal status of sports gambling in California and nationwide. This could impact your case, so it’s important to understand!

In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Murphy v. NCAA that the federal ban on state-sponsored sports betting was unconstitutional. This opened the door for states to legalize and regulate sports wagering. Many states have done just that, including right next door in Nevada.

But California hasn’t passed any laws to allow sportsbooks yet. There was a ballot measure in November 2022, Proposition 27, that would have legalized online sports betting, but voters rejected it. So for now, almost all forms of sports gambling remain illegal here.

That could change soon though. There’s widespread support for legal wagering in California, and lawmakers are considering new proposals in 2023. Online sports betting could be legal by the 2024 Super Bowl! So if your case drags on, the charges might get dropped if the laws change.

Should I Take a Plea Deal?

Since bookmaking charges are serious, the prosecutor will probably offer you a plea bargain to avoid trial. This means pleading guilty in exchange for reduced charges and a lighter sentence.

Should you take the deal? Every case is different. An attorney can advise if its your best option or if you should fight for dismissal. Factors to weigh are the strength of evidence, potential penalties, immigration status, and likelihood of winning at trial.

Don’t rush into a plea deal without exploring your defenses first. Once you plead guilty, there’s no going back.

Finding the Right Lawyer for Your Case

Hiring a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney is crucial for gambling cases in California. Here’s tips for finding the best lawyer:

  • Choose someone experienced with Penal Code 337a specifically. It’s a complex statute.
  • Find a lawyer local to the county your charged in. They’ll know the prosecutors and judges.
  • Make sure they have trial experience and aren’t afraid to defend you in court if necessary.
  • Personality matters too – find a lawyer your comfortable talking to and who listens to your concerns.

Don’t just go with the cheapest attorney you can find. This is serious, so invest in the best defense you can. Your freedom is on the line.

The Bottom Line

Being charged with illegal gambling, bookmaking, or pool-selling can have drastic consequences if convicted. But with an experienced California criminal defense lawyer on your side, you can avoid jail time or costly fines. Don’t wait to get help fighting the charges against you!

I hope this article helped you better understand Penal Code 337a and how to defend yourself. Let me know if you have any other questions! I’m happy to help.