Gambling: When a Game Becomes a Crime

  • Aug 31 2018

Many of our Miami criminal defense clients are surprised to learn that a fun night playing poker at a friend’s house can result in criminal charges. Florida takes gambling crimes very seriously, and given how popular games like Texas Hold ‘Em and Blackjack continue to be it is important to be aware of when your fun night can cross the line into illegal gambling.

Florida’s Gambling Laws

Under Florida law, you can be penalized for two broad categories of gambling activity: participating in a gambling activity, and maintaining a gambling establishment.

Participating in a Gambling Activity

Florida law prohibits anyone from playing or engaging in any game of cards, roulette, or other game of chance in any place, by using any device, for money or any other thing of value. To convict you for this crime, the state must prove three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. You played or engaged in a game of chance;
  2. You risked money or property belonging to you on the game’s outcome; and
  3. You expected to gain or lose money or property as a result of the game.

Conviction results in a second-degree misdemeanor, and can result in up to 60 days in jail or six months probation as well as a fine of up to $500.

Maintaining a Gambling Establishment

Valiente, Carollo and McElligott PLLC’s experienced Miami gambling defense attorneys are knowledgeable about Florida’s gambling laws, and we know that penalties can be more severe for those who organize and run the game. Generally, those who themselves organize or coordinate gambling, or who direct someone to do so, can face third degree felony charges. For example: if someone runs a regular neighborhood poker night in his or her living room, both the owner of the house and the host of the game, if they are different people, could be charged with a third-degree felony, face up to five years in prison, and pay up to $5,000 in fines.

To convict you for this crime, the state must prove two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The accused person had a substantial degree of control over and kept or maintained a gaming room or table, or gaming implements or apparatus, or house, booth, tent, shelter, or other place for the purpose of gaming or gambling.
  2. The place was habitually kept or maintained for the purpose of gambling.

How Can I Defend Against Gambling Charges?

If you are charged with gambling in Miami, you need to contact an experienced Miami gambling criminal defense attorney immediately. At Valiente, Carollo and McElligott PLLC, our experienced Miami criminal defense attorneys will look for evidence to exonerate you, including evidence that you were simply an observer or that this game was a one-time occurrence. Further, we are also experienced in challenging law enforcement’s search and seizure techniques leading to the discovery of gambling activity, as well as improper law enforcement warrant execution procedures.

Charged With a Gambling Crime?

At Valiente, Carollo and McElligott PLLC, we know that many people do not intentionally commit gambling crimes, or are simply caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. We believe you are innocent until proven guilty and aggressively defend all our Miami gambling crime clients. If you have been charged with a gambling crime in Miami, contact us immediately.

Posted in: Criminal