HANOVER, Pa. (WHTM) — A local police chief is responding to residents after warning a local business owner of the state’s fortune-telling law.

Hanover Borough Police Chief Chad Martin posted a statement on social media explaining why he visited the owner of The Serpent Key Shope and Sanctuary to warn them of offering “tarot card” readings.

According to the business’s website, they offer readings for between $10-100.

In a New York Times interview, The Serpent Key Shope and Sanctuary owner Beck Lawrence said Martin informed them they were not facing charges, “however, if he ever gets a report from anyone, he will be back on my doorstep.”

According to state law, a person may be found guilty of a third-degree misdemeanor for future telling if they do the following:

  • Pretend 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 is commonly called love powders or potions, or prepares the same to be taken or administered
  • Publishes by card, circular, sign, newspaper, or other means that he can predict future events
  • For gain or lucre, pretends to enable anyone to get or to recover stolen property or to tell where lost property is
  • To stop bad luck, or to give good luck, or to put bad luck on a person or animal
  • To stop or injure the business or health of a person or shorten his life
  • Give success in business, enterprise, speculation, and games of chance
  • Twin the affection of a person, to make one person marry another
  • Induce a person to make or alter a will
  • Tell where money or other property is hidden, to tell where to dig for treasure
  • Make a person dispose of property in favor of another

Martin posted a statement on Facebook earlier this month regarding the visit:

The purpose of the following message is to respond to recent social media attention given to Pennsylvania Title 18, Section 7104, Fortune Telling. The statute prohibits, among other things, someone from predicting the future by the reading of cards for gain.

Upon observing an advertisement for a business in the Borough of Hanover that offered tarot card readings, I engaged in a conversation with two individuals concerning the advertisement and my intent to educate the person, or persons engaged, in the acts about the above listed statute. There was never an investigation, nor was there any threat of arrest in this matter. With that being said, if a complaint was made against someone for engaging in acts qualifying as “fortune telling” in the Borough of Hanover; this department would be obligated to conduct an investigation. Finally, regarding this issue, the only departmental time utilized was mine in an effort to educate someone and to prevent a future complaint or issue.

If one possesses the sentiment that the statute, Pennsylvania Title 18, section 7104, Fortune Telling, does not protect anyone from harm and is not needed, then I would suggest that their proper recourse is to contact their legislators and voice their opinion.

Chad Martin, Hanover Borough Chief of Police

This is not the first time this statute has been brought up. In March 2023 a Lebanon County woman was charged with misdemeanor “fortune telling” after an investigation in Palmyra.

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