Credit card fraud is a common white-collar crime in California. This type of crime covers a wide range of actions. Each one carries its own penalties. The type of credit card fraud you commit and the facts and circumstances of your case will influence the penalties you can face.
Under California Penal Code 484e, it is illegal to acquire or otherwise possess a credit card with the intent to use, sell, or transfer it to someone other than the cardholder or the credit card company without their consent. This is charged as petty theft. Selling, transferring, or otherwise conveying a credit card without the cardholder's consent is charged as grand theft. Using a credit card fraudulently to acquire money, goods, or services in excess of $950 is considered grand theft as well.
Petty theft is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to six months in a county jail. Grand theft is more serious. Grand theft is punishable by up to one year in a county jail. Keep in mind; you could face charges for multiple instances of fraud using the same credit card. The exact sentencing can vary widely based on the number of violations committed.
Producing or using fake credit cards is also a crime. Under California Penal Code 484f, it is illegal to make or use a counterfeit credit card with the intent to defraud. This can be charged as forgery. It is also forgery to sign off on a credit card transaction with the intent to defraud using a fake name or without the cardholder's consent. Forgery can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. You can face up to a year in a county jail for a misdemeanor charge of forgery. The penalties for a felony charge of forgery can vary based on what you forged and your personal criminal history.
Using somebody else's credit card without their consent or using a stolen credit card are well-known examples of credit card fraud. You can commit credit card fraud by using the information from a credit card for fraudulent purposes as well. For example, you would be committing credit card fraud if you used the number and expiration date off of a stolen credit card to find other personal information, which is identity theft, or make a purchase online.
The law also provides for the fraudulent use of your own credit card. Using a revoked or expired credit card or making a purchase that is greater than your available balance could be considered fraud. Many people have done this with no fraudulent intent at all. You must do so knowingly and with intent for it to be considered fraud.
Credit and debit card fraud are the same for the purposes of the law. Other account cards that hold traceable value and can be used to receive money or purchase goods and services are included as well. These are all considered "access" cards as they allow the person to access some value. It is also important to point out that individuals, as well as businesses, can be guilty of credit card fraud. You should contact an attorney immediately if you own a business and are facing credit card fraud charges. Your business could be at stake.
Speak with an experienced California criminal defense attorney immediately if you are facing credit card fraud charges. Both state and federal laws regulate credit cards. This means it can be a state or federal offense. You can face serious consequences for committing fraud in California, so it is best to have an experienced attorney help you with your case. Certain elements must be proven for you to be convicted, and fraud charges can be complicated. Most importantly, it must be proven that you had fraudulent intent. A skilled attorney may be able to challenge the elements in the prosecution's argument or question the evidence against you.
Are you or a loved one facing credit card fraud charges and have some questions? California attorney Christopher Martens knows criminal defense and will fight for your rights. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, Mr. Martens has handled thousands of cases and has taken over 50 to trial. Attorney Christopher Martens will not be afraid to take your case all the way to trial to defend your rights. Serving the Visalia and Fresno areas, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens can provide expert DUI defense counsel. Call our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.