A competitive event, e.g., competitions, games, and sporting events, should embody the principles of honesty, integrity, and sportsmanship. However, what if someone involved in the event uses trickery and deceit to gain an advantage? That would pretty much invalidate the very essence of the event. One of the most common cheap tricks used in such circumstances is bribery. Bribery is the act of using something of value or favor in exchange for a favor. It can put one of the parties involved at an unfair disadvantage. To avoid this, California enacted PC 337c.
California Penal Code PC 337c is the law that criminalizes the act of attempting or actually bribe or accepting bribes of any sort in legally acceptable games. The statute states that any person who accepts, or attempts to accept, or offers to accept, or agrees to accept, any money, bribe or thing of value, with the intention or understanding or agreement that he or she will not use his or her best efforts to win any sporting event, contest, or exhibition of any kind whatsoever, except a wrestling exhibition as defined in Section 18626 of the Business and Professions Code, and specifically including, but without being limited to, such sporting events, contests, or exhibitions as baseball, football, basketball, boxing, horse racing, and wrestling matches, in which he or she is playing or participating or is about to play or participate in, or will so conduct himself or herself in such sporting event, contest, or exhibition that any other player or participant or team of players or participants shall thereby be assisted or enabled to win such sporting event, contest, or exhibition, or will so conduct himself or herself in such sporting event, contest, or exhibition as to limit his or her or his or her team's margin of victory in such sporting event, contest, or exhibition, is guilty of a felony, and shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170, or by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.
Penalties for violations under PC 337c
Anyone guilty of accepting bribes, attempting to bribe or accept bribes, or actually bribing is guilty of a felony under California Penal Code PC 337c. A felony is the most intense among all the levels of severity of a criminal offense in comparison to infractions and/or misdemeanors. This crime is punishable by:
- Incarceration in a correctional facility for no less than one (1) year but no more than three (3) years, and
- A fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), or
- By both that fine and imprisonment.
Since this offense takes place in professional gaming events, chances are, he/she, especially professionals, will be banned, permanently or temporarily, from any institution, league, or organization that he/she used to represent.
When facing allegations under PC 337c, the defendant, together with his/her attorney, can use the following conditions to challenge the claims of the plaintiff and prove his/her innocence:
- The defendant was forced to do a crime he/she did not want to (duress defense),
- The defendant was pressured by law enforcers during a sting operation to commit the crime (entrapment), or
- There is not enough evidence.
Forced to commit – This condition can be used as a defense when the defendant was forced to commit a crime he/she did not want to do so by threatening him/her and/or anyone he/she cares for. The use of coercion of any means is the critical determining factor of this defense.
Entrapped – This condition can be used as a defense when the defendant was pressured by a law enforcement operation into committing the crime. During a sting operation, the level of pressure an operative can exert on a suspected offender is only limited; forcefully pushing the person can be grounds for invalidating the operation results.
Insufficient evidence – This condition is used when not enough evidence points to the defendant's involvement in the criminal offense. Without evidence, the defendant is innocent in the eye of the law.
Facing felony charges like PC 337c allegations can destroy someone's life. Aside from the possible incarceration and the expensive fine, this can also lessen a person's chances of accessing civil and social privileges. Also, being accused of bribery or accepting bribes, as a professional player, for example, can ruin your career. To avoid facing the harms that entail this act, it would be the accused's best decision to immediately hire the aid of our top-notch California defense attorneys. They can help the defendant in clearing their names from the dirt that this crime can bring.
- California Penal Code PC 67 and 67 – Bribery
- California Penal Code PC 337a – Pool Selling/Bookmarking/Wagering
- California Penal Code PC 33u – Unlawful Gambling Practices
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