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First Degree Possession of Gambling Records: NY Penal Law 225.20

New York Penal Law § 225.20: Possession of Gambling Records in the First Degree
Gambling has become more accepted in recent years, but there are still many issues related to gambling that are viewed as illegal in New York, which includes possession of records that are related to unlawful gambling. New York Penal Law § 225.20 states an individual could be charged with possession of gambling records in the first degree if he or she knowingly had any of the following:

Documentation that is typically used in a bookmaking operation scheme or an enterprise that reflects more than five bets that total at least $5,000;

Documentation that is typically used to operate a lottery, enterprise, or policy scheme that reflects more than 500 chances or plays.

For example, if a police officer was provided with information that unlawful gambling was taking place through a specific telephone number, he or she would probably trace the number to a specific residence. If the law enforcement official noticed several phones ringing and individuals were talking about numerical information that lead the officer to believe the subject of conversation was point spreads, a warrant would more than likely be issued to search the residence. When a search leads to the discovery of cash, audio records, or written documentation that involves gambling, it could lead to a conviction. A similar situation happened to Stanley Traymore, which resulted in a possession of gambling records in the first degree charge. People v. Traymore, 672 N.Y.S.2d 44 (N. Y. A. D. 1 Dept., 1998)

Offenses That are Related to First Degree Possession of Gambling Records
When an individual faces a first degree possession of gambling records, he or she could also be charged with one of the related offenses, which include:

  • New York Penal Law § 225.30: Possession of a gambling device
  • New York Penal Law § 225.10: Promoting gambling in the first degree

Defenses That may be Used in a First Degree Possession of Gambling Records Charge
Coercion is a defense that is sometimes used when an individual faces a first degree possession of gambling records charge. An example may include an individual who has gambling records due to forced participation, which was part of a gambling enterprise, to satisfy a gambling debt. This circumstance would be a valid defense for a possession of gambling records in the first degree charge.

In order to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an individual is guilty of first degree possession of gambling records, a prosecutor must show that an individual was aware he or she was in possession of the records. For example, if gambling records were found in a room that is shared with another individual, it could be used as an acceptable defense to a first degree possession of gambling records charge.

Furthermore, a prosecutor must also prove the accused had the minimum amount of money and the number of bets that that is mandated in the statute.

How Will an Individual Convicted of Possession of Gambling Records in the First Degree be Sentenced?
Possession of gambling records in the first degree is a Class E felony in New York. If an individual is convicted of this offense, he or she could face a four year prison sentence, a fine, and probation for five years.

Why an Individual Facing Possession of Gambling Records Needs a Skilled Defense Attorney
When an individual is under an investigation for the crime of possession of gambling records in the first degree, it is imperative that he or she seek legal representation as soon as possible. There are instances where an individual was not aware he or she was in possession of gambling records.

Furthermore, there are many times when an individual will become involved in illegal activity to settle a debt. This circumstance may arise due to a bet that an individual is not able to repay, so he or she will be found with possession of gambling records to satisfy the individuals whom were owed money.

When an individual is convicted of a Class E felony, it can have a lasting and negative influence on his or her life. Although a Class E felony is considered the least serious of felony convictions in New York, an individual convicted of a felony in this category will have a criminal record, which could prevent him or her from getting a job as well as other missed opportunities.

by Leonard on Spodek Law Group
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