The state of New Jersey legalized gambling in Atlantic City in 1976, bringing an entirely new slate of legal issues to the forefront. As the second-largest casino destination in the United States, there's plenty of opportunities for trouble.
If you or a loved one find yourself charged with a casino crime, you need an attorney. Casino crimes can carry significant legal penalties. Being convicted of a casino crime may deprive you of your freedom, ability to earn a living, and quality of life.
You can't gamble with these possible consequences. Hire Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm to defend you from your pending casino-related charges.
Offenses That May Qualify as a Casino Crime
Casino crimes don't necessarily have to be gambling-related, but they can be. An offense that qualifies under one of the following criteria may be a casino crime:
- An offense occurring on casino property
- An offense related directly to gambling
- A financial crime concerning a casino, even if the offense does not occur on casino property
Therefore, casino crimes may include the following offenses:
New Jersey's Casino Control Act (New Jersey Statutes Annotated (N.J.S.A.) 5:12-119)) prohibits gambling by anyone under 21 years of age. Per New Jersey’s Office of the Attorney General (OAG), underage gambling is a disorderly persons offense.
A conviction on charges of underage gambling may result in:
- A conviction on your criminal record
- A fine of up to $1,000
- Suspension of your driver's license for up to six months
- Delayed issuance of your driver's license for up to six months
Parents of a minor may also face a disorderly persons offense if they knowingly permitted their child to gamble.
Cheating at Casino Games
N.J.S.A. 5:12-113 (a)(b)(c) makes it a crime to cheat at casino games. Allegations of cheating in a casino may stem from:
- False shuffling
- Using hidden electronic equipment to gain an advantage
- Card switching
- Manipulating a slot machine
- Counting cards
- Reading a hole card
- Manipulating dice
- Card marking
- Employing other people to help you cheat
Dealers, players, and non-dealer casino employees may all be accused of cheating at casino games. A conviction for cheating at casino games may cause:
- A fourth-degree crime conviction (an indictable offense tantamount to a felony)
- Up to 18 months imprisonment
- A fine of up to $10,000
These are the sanctions for a fourth-degree crime. In lieu of these sanctions, you may face a fine of up to $50,000 or $200,000 (depending on your personhood status). N.J.S.A. 5:12-115 details the penalties for cheating at casino games.
Possession of Cheating Devices
You do not have to be caught in the act of cheating in order to face criminal charges. Per N.J.S.A. 5:12-114, you may be charged with a fourth-degree crime if you are found in possession of:
- Counterfeit chips
- Counterfeit gaming billets
- Marked cards
- Loaded dice
- Any other type of cheating device
The penalties for a conviction of this sort are the same as those for cheating at casino games.
Violating New Jersey's Self-Exclusion Program
As the New Jersey Attorney General explains, the state's Casino Control Act allows casinos to prohibit certain people from their property. This includes:
- Those with a proven track record of cheating
- Criminal offenders
- Other individuals who the casino has explicitly forbidden from its premises
Gambling on casino grounds in violation of an exclusion list may expose you to several types of sanctions. According to N.J.S.A. 5:5-65.2, penalties for violating this law can include:
- Suspension of certain permits or licenses
- A fine of up to $5,000
- Forfeiture of winnings
- “Other remedial conditions the (gaming) commission deems appropriate.”
Though you may not face criminal charges for this offense, these sanctions may have a significant negative impact on your financial standing and quality of life.
Non-Gambling Crimes Related to Casinos
Many casino crimes are not related directly to gambling. Nonetheless, non-gambling casino crimes can result in penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment.
Casino-related crimes may include:
- Those governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:21-6, including credit card theft, intent to defraud, receiving stolen property, and fraudulent use of credit cards
- Other forms of theft and fraud
- Driving while intoxicated (DWI)
- Sexual assault
- Drug possession
- Criminal harassment
Virtually any crime can occur on casino property. Potential criminal sanctions vary from one alleged crime to the next. No matter the charges you face, you have something to lose.
Potential Penalties for a Casino Crime Conviction
We've discussed the legal sanctions for crimes like underage gambling and cheating at casino games. For other crimes such as sexual assault, prostitution, and DWI, the legal sanctions you face may depend on:
The Class of Crime or Offense You Are Accused of
N.J.S.A. 2C:43-1 lists six classes of offense:
- Crimes of the first degree
- Crimes of the second degree
- Crimes of the third degree
- Crimes of the fourth degree
- Disorderly persons offenses
- Petty disorderly persons offenses
Rather than classifying crimes as misdemeanors and felonies (as many states do), New Jersey categorizes indictable offenses in the first four tiers. Disorderly persons offenses warrant their own distinction.
Sentencing Guidelines for Your Alleged Crime or Offense
You may face the following criminal sanctions for each class of offense:
- First-degree indictable offense: though most casino crimes do not qualify as a first-degree offense, this class of crime may result in a 20-year prison term
- Second-degree indictable offense: these offenses may result in between 5-10 years' imprisonment,
- Third-degree indictable offense: You may face three to five years' imprisonment for a conviction of a third-degree indictable offense
- Fourth-degree indictable offense: You may face up to 18 months' imprisonment for a conviction of a fourth-degree indictable offense
These sentences may also include hefty fines. Attorney Joseph D. Lento can review your case and tell you which sanctions you face.
What a Disorderly Persons Offense Means for Your Case
Disorderly persons offenses, of which some casino crimes qualify, have unique legal considerations. As N.J.S.A. 2C :1-4(b) explains, disorderly persons offenses are not technically “crimes”:
“Disorderly persons offenses and petty disorderly persons offenses are petty offenses and are not crimes within the meaning of the Constitution of this State.”
Note that this distinction is purely technical. Disorderly persons offenses are simply lower-level crimes. They can result in criminal sanctions such as jail time and fines.
For a conviction of a disorderly persons offense, you may face:
- Up to 90 days' “imprisonment” (though it may be up to six months in certain cases)
- A fine
- Community service
- Supervised release
- A stay at a halfway house
- Suspension of your license
For a petty disorderly persons offense, you may face similar charges but to a lesser degree of severity. The maximum fine for a petty disorderly persons offense is $500, while the maximum jail time is 30 days.
Can You Have Your Record Expunged?
As N.J.S.A. 2C:52-3(a) notes, you may be eligible for expungement of one or more disorderly persons offenses if the right conditions apply. Lento Law Firm can help you with the expungement process, but we will first defend you from any consequences and sanctions that you face.
We may file a petition for expungement of indictable offenses as well. The Lento Law Firm team will address your eligibility for expungement when we handle your case.
Why Is It Important to Defend Yourself from Casino Crime Charges?
It doesn't matter if you're facing a first-degree indictable offense or a disorderly persons offense. Whenever you're facing any legal sanctions for a casino crime, it's imperative that you retain a competent attorney.
Beyond the legal consequences of your case, a conviction or heavy-handed plea agreement may:
- Cause permanent harm to your reputation
- Lead to imprisonment and fines that you may have avoided with a capable defense
- Prevent you from earning a living while you are imprisoned
- Severely limit your earning capacity once you are free
- Cause substantial harm to your interpersonal relationships
- Affect your child custody status
- Cause immense personal harm
For these reasons, you want all the help that you can get in defending yourself. Joseph D. Lento and his team are prepared to fight for your freedom and name.
How Can Joseph D. Lento Help You With an Alleged Casino Crime?
With New Jersey’s legalization of sports betting in 2018, the state continues to make it easier to gamble. However, gamblers are not always aware of what they can and cannot do in Atlantic City and across the state. Sometimes, they just don't realize the consequences of bending or breaking the rules.
If you are facing legal consequences for an alleged casino crime, it's time to hire attorney Joseph D. Lento. Attorney Lento and his team will:
- Become intimately familiar with the facts of your case
- Seek any evidence that exonerates you
- Devise a strategy for your defense
- Identify a target outcome for your case
- Negotiate with the prosecutor handling your case (if doing so is appropriate)
- Seek minimization or dismissal of the charges against you
Attorney Lento understands the ins and outs of criminal law in New Jersey. He knows the nature of casino crimes in particular. He and his team will fight for you and your loved ones.
Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to speak about your case. Do not wait to call. We will use every resource to defend you.