Credit card fraud is a term used to refer to a broad range of crimes – involving theft or fraud committed while using a credit card, or other similar payment mechanism, as a fraudulent source of funds in a transaction. Generally, the purpose of these crimes is to get something without paying for it.
Under Florida law, the crime of Fraudulent Use of Credit Cards is committed when a person uses a card that was unlawfully obtained, known to be forged, or presented under a false pretense by the authorized cardholder; and is done so with the intent to defraud a merchant and obtain money, goods, or anything of value from that merchant. Multiple, fraudulent uses of a credit card within six months is treated as a single crime, but there only needs to be a one time use for it to satisfy a conviction.
What Could a Conviction Cost You?
The penalties for a conviction of Fraudulent Use of Credit Cards increase based on the value of the goods obtained or the number of times the card was used within a six-month span. Based on these elements, you can be charged with either a Misdemeanor or a Felony.
For example, it is a first degree misdemeanor charge if, within any six-month period, a credit card is unlawfully used less than two times or used for items valued at less than $100. A First Degree Misdemeanor allows a judge to impose any combination of the following penalties: (1) Up to 364 days in jail; (2) up to 364 days of probation; (3) up to $1,000 in fines.
On the other hand, it is a felony if, within any six-month period, a credit card is unlawfully used more than two times or on items valued more than $100. This is classified as a Third Degree Felony and allows a judge to impose any combination of the following penalties: (1) Up to five years in prison; (2) up to five years of probation; and (3) up to $5,000 in fines.
What Can You Do?
If you are charged with Fraudulent use of a Credit Card, whether as a Misdemeanor or a Felony, proof of the intent to defraud a merchant at the time of the transaction, is required. This means that if you did not know that the card was fraudulent, or if you can prove that you intended to pay the true cardholder back, then you lack the intent necessary for conviction of either charge.
Technology has allowed law enforcement to clamp down on fraudulent credit card use, making it somewhat more difficult for those accused to mount defenses, which is why you need a defense attorney who is experienced in defending these types of charges such as Puglisi Law. If you are facing charges related to unlawful use of a credit card, please reach out to Puglisi Law so we can start working for you!