The court system in California considers credit card fraud to be an illegal act. Depending on the exact nature of the fraud, an individual could be charged under California Penal Code Section 484e, 484f, 484g, 484h, 484i & 484j: Credit Card Fraud.
The penalties for even small acts of credit card fraud can be very severe. Learn more about the differences between these charges and the potential impacts of a conviction with the help of the Simmrin Law Group.
Descriptions of the Credit Card Fraud Penal Codes
Los Angeles uses six different penal code subsections to prosecute acts of credit card theft. These codes include:
Penal Code Section 484e (PC 484e)
PC 484e covers the act of stealing another person’s credit card or credit card information. Individuals who sell, acquire, transfer, or possess another person’s credit card information can be prosecuted under PC 484e.
Penal Code Section 484f (PC 484f)
PC 484f covers the act of forging credit card information. Individuals can be prosecuted for this act if they:
- Alter a credit card
- Counterfeit a credit card
- Forge a signature on a credit card receipt
Penal Code Section 484g (PC 484g)
Anyone who intentionally uses an invalid credit card to get goods or cash can be prosecuted under PC 484g, which covers fraudulent uses of a credit card.
Penal Code Section 484h (PC 484h)
Businesses can be charged under PC 484h. Any company that knowingly accepts payment from an invalid credit card can face this charge. Businesses that claim a false transaction occurred using fake evidence can also face PC 484h charges.
Penal Code Section 484i (PC 484i)
PC 484i deals specifically with credit card counterfeiting. Individuals face this charge if they create or possess counterfeit credit cards or possess the tools to make counterfeit credit cards.
Penal Code Section 484j (PC 484j)
Individuals who publish the credit card information of others can be charged with PC 484j. PC 484j allows the court to punish people who share:
- PIN numbers
- Private account information
Understanding Charges of Credit Card Fraud in Los Angeles
The courts in Los Angeles can treat credit card fraud as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the specific charges. These cases are prosecuted very harshly, as they are considered a form of theft. In many cases, the charges are prosecuted with California Penal Code Section 484(a) & 488: Petty Theft or California Penal Code Section 487: Grand Theft.
The exact penalties for credit card fraud vary depending on the amount of money stolen or defrauded. Generally, individuals will be charged with misdemeanor petty theft if they steal or defraud someone for under $950. Acts of theft or fraud for more than $950 are typically charged as felony grand theft.
In some cases, as with PC 484f, individuals are charged with a misdemeanor if they possess a stolen credit card without using it. Using the stolen card increases the charges to a felony.
Penalties If Convicted of Credit Card Fraud in California
Exactly what penalties you could be facing for a credit card fraud conviction depend upon which section of the penal code you were charged with violating.
Violation of PC 484e
Theft of a person’s credit card or credit card information is a violation of PC 484e. This is considered an act of grand theft. Grand theft can be treated as either a misdemeanor charge or a felony. If you are convicted of felony grand theft, you could be facing up to three years behind bars. In addition, you will likely be charged fines determined by the court.
Violation of PC 484f
Forging credit card information is a violation of PC 484f. This type of violation is charged as a forgery. Like grand theft, forgery is a wobbler offense, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If convicted of a felony forgery charge, you could face up to three years in county jail along with fines determined by the court.
Violation of PC 484g
The intentional use of an invalid credit card or credit card information is a violation of PC 484g. Whether this is charged as grand theft or petty theft depends upon how much the attempted charge was. If the charge is for petty theft, then it will be charged as a misdemeanor.
If convicted of misdemeanor petty theft, you could face up to one year in county jail along with fines that will be determined by the court.
Violation of PC 484h
When businesses knowingly accept payment from an invalid card or claim a false transaction occurred using fake evidence, it is a violation of PC 484h. This crime can either be charged as grand theft or petty theft. If convicted of grand theft under PC 484h, the penalty could be as much as three years in county jail.
Violation of PC 484i
Creating counterfeit credit cards or possessing the necessary tools to make counterfeit cards is a violation of PC 484i. These offenses can result in either a felony or a misdemeanor charge. If convicted of a felony, you could face as many as three years in county jail.
Violation of PC 484j
The publication of another person’s credit card information is a violation of PC 484j. This crime is charged as a misdemeanor and is punishable by a sentence of up to six months in jail as well as fines determined by the court.
Credit Card Fraud and Legal Defenses
Credit card fraud accusations are severe. Convictions often lead to high fines and months or years spent behind bars. Fortunately, there are a few legal defenses that may apply in credit card fraud cases. Two of the most common defenses used in credit card fraud cases are that the defendant has no intent to commit credit card fraud and there is no probable cause.
No Intent to Commit Credit Card Fraud
Intent is a key element of proving someone guilty of credit card fraud in California. Sometimes, individuals accidentally use a credit card that is expired or no longer valid. These individuals are not intentionally trying to defraud anyone else. Unintentional acts are not considered credit card fraud in Los Angeles.
No Probable Cause
In order for police to detain or arrest a suspect for a crime, they must have probable cause. This right is protected under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
If the police attempt to arrest or detain you without probable cause, then any evidence they gather as a result could be thrown out in court. In some cases, this could result in a complete dismissal of the charges against you.
Getting Help with Credit Card Fraud Charges in Los Angeles
The sheer number of charges used to prosecute credit card fraud can make understanding accusations related to California Penal Code Section 484e, 484f, 484g, 484h, 484i & 484j: Credit Card Fraud difficult. The Simmrin Law Group will guide you through your case and explain your options at each step.
Contact us today for a free consultation If you have been accused of credit card fraud. Your future is too valuable to leave in the hands of an overworked public defender. We will fight to protect your rights.