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Victimless Crimes -

       The term victimless crime can be a considered a vague term or phrase that is used politically from a moral point of view and not in legal terms. It is often referred as more of a behavior that is illegal by law (driving a motorcycle without a helmet, public nudity, euthanasia, drug use, vagrancy, etc.). The act itself does violate or threaten the individual rights of any citizen. Victimless crime can also be consensus between persons (such as prostitution and gambling).

Penal Code 422.6

       Much debate has been passionately argued on both sides of the victimless crime issue as well as the interpretation of the California Penal Code 422.6.

(a) No person, whether or not acting under color of law,
shall by force or threat of force, willfully injure, intimidate,
interfere with, oppress, or threaten any other person in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him or her by the Constitution or laws of this state or by the Constitution or laws of the United States in whole or in part because of one or more of the actual or perceived characteristics of the victim listed insubdivision.

       Some of the more common victimless crimes considered in this discussion and constantly debated by politicians and everyday citizens alike are prostitution, pimping and pandering and gambling.


       Many people think that prostitution and the related crimes are victimless and that they should not be subject to prosecution. These people do not necessarily support the idea of prostitution, but they feel that the business of prostitution does not have a victim in the sense of most crimes. They view that the prosecution is another way of dictating certain morals that people should not be imposing on one another. It is a choice where there is no harm.

       The proponents of these laws claim that there are victims: the victims are the girls/women who are forced to work, that the work is demeaning, that there is always drugs and/or other crimes associated with prostitution.

What is Prostitution?

       Prostitution is defined as agreeing to engage in or who engages in an act of prostitution. A person agrees to engage in an act of prostitution when, with specific intent, he or she manifests an acceptance of an offer or solicitation to engage in the act. It makes no difference if the other party did not intend to engage in the act. The agreement alone is insufficient. Some further act is necessary. Penal Code 647(b). It is a misdemeanor. A second offense can result in a minimum of 45 days in jail, while a third offense can result in a minimum of 90 days in jail.

What is Pandering?

       Pandering is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for three, four or six years. Pandering is defined as procuring pr persuading another person for the purpose of prostitution, If the other person is under the age of 16, then the punishment is increased to three, six or eight years.

What is Pimping?

       Pimping is also a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for three, four or six years. Pimping is defined as using the proceeds from prostitution to support or maintain the defendant. Similarly to pandering, if the other person is under the age of 16, then the punishment is increased to three, six or eight years.


       Gambling has become a huge business in California. It was estimatedthat the gross gambling revenue in Californiatotaled $13 billion in 2004. Indian casino revenues were about $6 billion, lottery's sales were $3 billion, horse races wagers were $4 billion and card clubs took in $655 million. As a result, gambling is government regulated.

       Slot machines and Internet gambling are generally illegal in California. However, California as well as other states, including Nevada, sets forth requirements for which kind of gambling is permitted, where it is permitted, who may own them, who may work there, who can even supply them, and what games they can offer.

       Many adults freely gamble with bookmakers or on the Internet without realizing they may be breaking the law.

Charitable Gambling

       Charitable gambling is generally prohibited in California unless the nonprofit agency registers with the Bureau of Gambling Control for approval. They are limited to holding one event per calendar year. Even the business that supplies equipment and/or services to the charitable event must be registered.

       Even bingo is a heavily regulated fundraising activity. Raffles at a charity event are also regulated. The nonprofit organization must register with the Registry of Charitable Trusts prior to conducting a raffle and must file a financial disclosure report on each raffle event. If you are a charity and you would like more information on the legal requirements for a raffle, please visit the Attorney General's web site.

- Written by , Attorney at Law





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