If you have been charged with credit card fraud, you may be worried about criminal penalties. Depending on the type of fraud, the consequences can be severe and may include paying huge fines and spending time in prison. If you have been accused, contact Fresno credit card fraud attorney Michael McKneely at (559) 443-7442 for a free consultation. He will defend your rights and fight to have your charges reduced, or even dismissed.
According to NASDAQ, nearly half of the world’s credit card fraud occurs in the United States. Prosecutors in California are increasingly charging people under identity theft statutes for credit card fraud to increase their punishments. Since the definition of credit card fraud is broad, false accusations can be made due to mistaken identity or a misunderstanding.
Credit Card Fraud Defined
Credit card fraud is a general misrepresentation to another for financial gain. This crime is penalized depending on the circumstances surrounding it, including the amount of loss, and it can be punished as a misdemeanor or felony. Credit card fraud in California can be divided into three main types:
- Using or attempting to use a fake credit card
- Using another individual’s legitimate credit card without their permission
- Using your own credit card with the knowledge that your card has been canceled or revoked
Fraud as Petty Theft and Grand Theft
Credit card fraud is petty theft or grand theft when goods or services are obtained using someone else’s credit card. Situations in which this crime would be filed as petty or grand theft include, but are not limited to:
- Stealing someone’s credit card and using it
- Using a credit card of your own that you know has been suspended or canceled
The amount of the theft is generally the key determination for whether the charge is a felony or misdemeanor. Fraud in excess of $950 is eligible to be charged as a felony. Under $950, the law punishes the charge as a misdemeanor. The penalties for these crimes include:
- Petty Theft (Misdemeanor) – Up to $1,000 in fines and up to 6 months in county jail
- Grand Theft (Misdemeanor) – Up to $1,000 in fines and up to 1 year in county jail
- Grand Theft (Felony) – Up to $10,000 in fines and up to 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in county jail or state prison
Fraud as Forgery
Credit card fraud can also be punished as forgery if it involves creating a fake credit card. Much like grand theft, forgery credit card fraud is a wobbler, meaning that it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The consequences of conviction include:
- Forgery (Misdemeanor) – Up to $1,000 in fines and up to 1 year in county jail
- Forgery (Felony) – Up to $10,000 in fines and 16 months, 2 years, or three years in county jail or prison
Talk to a Fresno Credit Card Fraud Defense Attorney Today
Credit card fraud charges in Fresno can be difficult to fight. However, there are strategies that a skilled defense attorney can implement to fight for you and potentially get your charges reduced or dismissed. Often once all the facts are known, it’s apparent that the use of the card was actually authorized. The police sometimes fail to investigate these crimes thoroughly and you may have been accused of fraud when you were given the cardholder’s permission to use a card. Proving that you did not have fraudulent intent may result in your charges being dropped altogether.
Call Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer today at (559) 443-7442 to set up a free consultation. If you’re facing credit card fraud charges in California, preserve your legal rights by contacting us right away. Fresno criminal defense lawyer Michael McKneely has been on both sides of the criminal justice system, so he knows what to expect and how to make the process easier for you.