Legal Hotline: Fortune Teller Ads

Legal Hotline: Fortune Teller Ads

Q: Can we run ads for psychics and fortune tellers?

A: Under Pennsylvania law, it is a misdemeanor of the third degree for a person to, among other things, tell fortunes, predict future events, and work spells or charms for money, although these practices are acceptable for amusement purposes only.

Pennsylvania’s “fortune teller” statute, 18 Pa.C.S. § 7104, states:

“A person is guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree if he pretends for gain or lucre, to tell fortunes or predict future events, by cards, tokens, the inspection of the head or hands of any person, or by the age of anyone, or by consulting the movements of the heavenly bodies, or in any other manner, or for gain or lucre, pretends to effect any purpose by spells, charms, necromancy, or incantation, or advises the taking or administering of what are commonly called love powders or potions, or prepares the same to be taken or administered, or publishes by card, circular, sign, newspaper or other means that he can predict future events, or for gain or lucre, pretends to enable anyone to get or to recover stolen property, or to tell where lost property is, or to stop bad luck, or to give good luck, or to put bad luck on a person or animal, or to stop or injure the business or health of a person or shorten his life, or to give success in business, enterprise, speculation, and games of chance, or to win the affection of a person, or to make one person marry another, or to induce a person to make or alter a will, or to tell where money or other property is hidden, or to tell where to dig for treasure, or to make a person to dispose of property in favor of another.”

An advertisement for such services can be used as evidence in a prosecution, but criminal liability lies squarely with the advertiser, not the publisher.

The law is arcane, and there are no reported court cases showing its use by prosecutors or further analysis or interpretation by the courts. With these facts in mind, some newspapers allow this kind of ad and include a disclaimer making clear that the services offered are intended for entertainment or amusement purposes only.

As always, this is not intended as, and should not be construed as, legal advice. Please contact the PNA Legal Hotline at (717) 703-3080 with questions or to submit an ad for pre-publication review.