Attorney Fees Related to Bingo Operations

A criminal statute "will be construed as favorably to the defendant as its language and intent will reasonably permit." (People v. Horn (1998) 68 Cal. App. 4th 408, 419 [80 Cal. Rptr. 2d 310].) On its face, Penal Code section 326.5, subdivision (b), does not appear to prohibit payment of attorney fees for services related to the bingo operations out of bingo proceeds. A "profit" commonly refers to what a partner or stakeholder receives from the enterprise, while a "wage" or "salary" refers to employee compensation. When one pays a fee to an attorney, that fee is not a "profit, wage, or salary" under a reasonable interpretation of those terms in the context of the statute. Certainly, if the Legislature had intended to include a prohibition on the payment of fees in the statute, it could have used the term "fees." Expenses, such as attorney fees, are a cost of doing business and are deducted from the gross receipts to determine the organization's profit in the enterprise. There is no prohibition in Penal Code section 326.5, subdivision (b) on paying expenses, except for those that would be characterized as a "profit, wage, or salary."