California criminal laws have numerous punishments for activities related to credit card fraud. The state defines credit card as “access cards” which includes debt and credit cards and numbers on those accounts. The type of criminalcharge a person may be charged with depends on the penal code section and circumstances.
The state outlines credit card fraud in penal code 484. Specific sections involving this criminal activity are:
Debit and credit card fraud occurs when a person has the intent to fraudulently obtain goods, services or money by using an access card. The access card belongs to someone else. The person using it doesn't have the permission from the cardholder to access the account or make purchases.
Access to the credit can be obtain by stealing the physical card. California penal code also penalizes anyone who alters or forges the access or takes the account information.
A cardholder may also face charges in the state if he or she keeps the card after it expires and continuously uses it.
Prosecutors Must Prove
Remember, if you've been accused of credit card fraud, you're not automatically guilty of the charge or charges. The prosecutor over your case must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of credit card fraud. A prosecutor must prove elements. These elements, which vary depending on the charge, are used to show guilt.
When charged with P.C. 484e, a prosecutor must prove:
- You intended to sell, defraud, transfer or convey an access card
- You intended to do these things without the consent of the cardholder or issuer When charged under P.C. 484f, a prosecutor must show:
- You had intent to design, defraud, alter, make or emboss a counterfeit access card Or
- You had the intent to attempt to use a counterfeit debit or credit cardWhen charged under P.C. 484f, prosecutor must prove:
- You aren't the cardholder or anyone with the authorization to use the access card
- You had the intent to design, defraud, alter, emboss or make a counterfeited access card And/ or
- You attempted to or actually committed forgery by using a counterfeited card
When charged according to 484g, a prosecutor must show:
- You had an intent to defraud
- Your intent to defraud a for the purpose of obtaining anything of values such as goods, money or services
- You used an access card or account information on the access card
- The access card or its information was retained or obtained by you when youviolated sections 484e or 484f or this penal code
- Or you used an access card which you knew was expired, forged or revoked by the issuer
When charged with P.C. 484h, a prosecutor must prove:
- You or a retailer had an intent
- The intent was to defraud
- You used an access card or its information to obtain anything of value
- The access card presented violated section 484e
When charged with P.C. 484i, a prosecutor must show:
- You possessed an incomplete credit or debit card
- You had the intent to complete the access card such as adding a magnetic stripe
- You didn't have consent of the issuer to complete the information
When charged with P.C. 484j, a prosecutor must prove:
- You published the code or number
- The number was of an existing, revoked, fake, canceled or expired access card, computer password, access code or account number
- You had the intent to use the code or number to avoid making a lawful payment To “publish” in the California code tell it to more than one person either in writtenform or orally.
Legal Defenses to Credit Card Fraud
The specific legal defense depends on what you and your attorney decide is best. There are two general defenses to credit card fraud:
- Cardholder gave permission to use the access account
- There was no intent to commit credit card fraud
If you are convicted of making or selling counterfeit cards, you may receive up to one year in county jail. If you are found guilty of petty theft related to credit card fraud, it can be up to six months in county jail and / or a fine. If the conviction is considered grand theft credit card fraud, it's up to one year in county jail plus a fine.
Related Offenses/Additional Penalties
- Unlawful Access Card Activity 484ic: A person who has an incomplete access card and has the intent to use it without permission of the owner, is guilty of this crime. The term “possess” includes making, designing or trafficking card making equipment or has an incomplete access, or credit card. Penalties for unlawful access is up to a year in county jail or state prison.
- Identity Theft 530.5a: An individual who intentionally obtains personal information of another is guilty of stealing a person's identity. This includes impersonating someone in his/her private or professional capacity to obtain money, credit, goods, services or medical information. The defendant can be sentenced to one year in county jail and/ or $1,000 fine. An alternative sentence includes time in state prison and/ or a $10,000 fine.
- Receiving Stolen Property 496a: A person who receives or buys property taken from another is guilty of receiving stolen property. The property can be stolen or obtained in a way that constitutes either extortion or theft. The person can also be charged if he or she withholds, sells or helps to conceal the property. Punishment for this crime is one year in county jail or prison.
- Mail Theft 530.5e: A person who has the intent to acquire, defraud, retain possession of, or transfer someone's personal identifying information is guilty of mail fraud. Punishment for mail theft is up to one year in county jail and a $1,500 fine.
- Perjury 118: An individual who takes an oath pledging he or she will truthful testify, depose, certify or declare before any court or officer, but provides false information is guilty. Punishment for perjury is up to a year in county jail and a fine of approximately $25,000.
- False Financial Statement 532a1: A person knowingly and intentionally causes or makes a false statement about his or her ability to pay, financial condition is guilty of a false financial statement. The financial statement can be done directly or indirectly and in writing. The intent must be to obtain cash or credit. Punishment for making false statement is approximately six months in county jail and a fine.
Do You Need Help Fighting a Credit Card Fraud Charge?
The Law Offices of Jeff Voll is here for you and we specialize in fighting credit card fraud cases in Los Angeles. You aren't alone. With Jeff Voll at your side, you'll have a criminal attorney ready to attack the prosecution's case and will always try presenting the best evidence to prove your innocence.
Contact the Law Offices of Jeff Voll. We provide a free consultation and case evaluation. Call us at 323-467-6400.