While not all crimes in California are considered especially serious offenses that require the possibility of prison time, all crimes are capable of landing you in jail. One crime that is considered serious, yet never worthy of being called a felony, is running a lottery. Individuals are not allowed to have lotteries within the state.
There are some exceptions to the rules, but California doesn’t define these exceptions as ‘lotteries.’ The important thing for anyone accused of this crime to do is to get a lawyer. An experienced attorney can explain to a judge that what the State thought was an illegal lottery was likely a perfectly legitimate raffle.
Law Related to Lotteries
California law defines a lottery as a scheme meant to dispose of, or distribute property or money by chance, between people who have provided some sort of payment or promise thereof in order to be considered for a chance of winning the said property. It is also deemed a lottery if ‘winners’ receive some portion of the aforementioned property. These games of chance can also be referred to as raffles and gift enterprises, but any event by another name that meets these criteria is still considered a lottery.
This law also applies to people who prepare, host, set up or even propose that such a lottery be held. Even aiding in the printing of lottery tickets can end with a person being arrested, and they can also be arrested for insuring or receiving insurance for these lotteries. Distributing tickets or setting up a location to hold such a lottery are also considered misdemeanors.
This law doesn’t make every type of raffle illegal, however. The State of California realizes that certain organizations (senior communities, non-profits, etc.) use raffles to fund necessary endeavors. The law usually requires that the majority of the profits earned from these raffles go to charitable means. These raffles, however, cannot just be held on a whim. The organization seeking to hold the event must obtain administrative approval and also register annually with the Justice Department.
Bail for Lottery Activities
Bail amounts vary for every crime in the State of California. This is because each county makes its own bail schedule, which presets specific bail amounts for a crime that has been committed. If you have been accused of any crime related to the aforementioned lotteries, simply contact your closest Bail Hotline office to help post your bail, for just 10% of the total face amount required. Few counties even mention lotteries in their bail schedule, as it is considered a very low cost bail; of course, a thousand dollars can be a really large amount when you don’t have it.
Santa Clara County is one of the few counties that do mention the crime, and it only sets bail at $1000. All other schedules have a table for crimes that aren’t listed in the schedule, based on the amount of jail time a person can receive. These tables usually end up assigning those accused of lottery offenses around the same amount of bail s Santa Clara.
Penalties and Consequences
Lotteries are definitely not considered too serious – mostly due to the fact that they’re not felonies. The commission of the crime can still bring some harsh consequences, especially considering the fact that an otherwise perfectly legal raffle can become illegal if the proper paperwork isn’t filed. Anyone convicted of any of the aforementioned activities is guilty of a misdemeanor. That said, these crimes can land a person in jail for up to a year. The proceedings from the lottery are also confiscated and become property of the State of California.
When looking at some of the serious crimes that occur in California, a person may think that holding a lottery isn’t that big of a deal. Unfortunately, this crime can still land a person in jail. Remember, the only difference between a legal raffle and an illegal lottery is paperwork. If a lawyer can convince a judge that the crime committed was simply an oversight, then a defendant will have a much better chance of escaping jail time.