Have You Been Charged with Keeping a Gambling Place in Georgia?
Crimes characterized under public health and morals are wide-ranging and the penalties vary. From simple misdemeanors to felony charges, it is critical to hire an experienced lawyer. Do not trust your case to a general practitioner who sometimes handles criminal law. You need someone who has an in-depth knowledge of criminal law and can thoroughly explain your options. Our attorneys at Lawson and Berry have over 50 combined years of experience and are ready to speak with you. Call now for a free case evaluation and find out why we are Georgia's top-rated criminal defense firm.
Georgia Law on Keeping a Gambling Place
The laws against keeping a gambling place were written with the purpose of preventing the maintenance of a place where people bet money. The subject matter of the bet is immaterial. Gullatt v. State, 129 Ga. 538, (1929).
O.C.G.A. § 16-12-23 reads as follows:
A person who knowingly permits any real estate, building, room, tent, vehicle, boat, or other property whatsoever owned by him or under his control to be used as a gambling place or who rents or lets any such property with a view or expectation that it be so used commits the offense of keeping a gambling place.
In order to support a conviction under the statute, proof must show either that the accused (1) kept, had, used or maintained a gaming house or room, or (2) that the accused permitted persons, with his knowledge, to come together in house or room occupied by him and there play for money or other valuable thing, or that the accused permitted his servant or agent to operate for him a gaming house. Marano v. State, 86 Ga. App. 89, (1952). Furthermore, keeping a gambling house is separate from the offense of crimes that were committed therein. Gullatt v. State
Georgia Case Law
A man was convicted of keeping a gambling place in McFarland v. State. The accused, McFarland, had been seen seated at the front door of the country club for several weeks. The club contained gambling paraphernalia such as adding machines, note pads with numbers on them, tapes, cans and cartons of money, and sacks on slips of paper. In addition, McFarland lived in a trailer 200 feet from the club, and there was a path in between them. The Court found sufficient evidence demonstrating McFarland was keeping a gambling place. 137 Ga. App. 354, (1976).
However, in the case of Sheppard v. State, the Court of Appeals reversed Sheppard's conviction stating there was insufficient evidence. The facts showed that Sheppard owned the New Yorker Club. One night, some men came in with a portable dice table and began to initiate games with some of the customers in the club. Bets were made, things escalated into a fight, and the police were called. Sheppard had not been present in the club during all this time and was not shown to have had any knowledge of the dice game. Furthermore, no one paid Sheppard or his bartender for permission to play dice in the club. The bartender also testified that he had never seen the men come in before. The Court concluded that the evidence failed to show that Sheppard was criminally connected by act or intent with the commission of the offense. Therefore, he was acquitted of the charges. 91 Ga. App. 672, (1955).
Penalty for Keeping a Gambling Place in Georgia
A person convicted of keeping a gambling place in Georgia will be charged with a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. The punishment is a maximum of 12 months in jail, a fine up to $5,000, or both.
Georgia Defenses to a Charge of Keeping a Gambling Place
Lack of Knowledge: As seen in the Sheppard case, the owner of the club was not present and did not knowingly permit gambling in his establishment. A lack of evidence establishing these elements will lead to an acquittal.
Innocence: An alibi or other proof demonstrating that you could not have committed the crime as charged would be greatly beneficial in your case. If this defense applies to you, contact one of our keeping a place of gambling attorneys in Georgia today.
If you or a loved one has been charged with keeping a gambling place in Georgia, contact us now. We will immediately start preparing your defense. We promise to walk you through every step of the criminal process and update you of your options as we go. We care about your future and ensure your rights will be protected. Remember, a charge is not the same as a conviction. Call now for a free case evaluation.