Credit card fraud is a common crime, especially with all the major online data breaches that have taken place over the years. If you’ve been charged with credit card fraud in New York, there are some important details regarding the laws you should know, as there can be steep legal penalties involved if you’re found guilty. Here is your guide to credit card fraud charges, including what constitutes credit card fraud, what the potential penalties can be for it and legal defenses.
What Is Credit Card Fraud?
Credit card fraud is the use of another person’s credit card without their authorization. For example, if you used someone else’s credit card at a retail store or for an online order, both would be examples of credit card fraud.
There are several different charges that can apply when credit card fraud is involved. The most common is theft of services and unlawful use of a credit card. Another is possession of stolen property. If the prosecution can prove that you stole the credit card, then that would be grand larceny in the fourth degree. Depending on what information you obtained of the cardholder’s, you could also be looking at identity theft charges. If you needed to sign on a point-of-sale device for a purchase to go through with a stolen credit card, there can be forgery charges.
One important point to note is that even though the term “credit card” has been used here, the law looks at fraud the same way if a debit card is involved, which means the rules and potential penalties are the same.
Penalties for Credit Card Fraud in New York
Both theft of services and unlawful use of a credit card are considered class A misdemeanors in New York, which means their maximum penalties are a $1,000 fine and one year in jail. If it’s your first offense, you can often negotiate a better plea deal, although this also depends on how much you stole using the credit card.
The more severe offenses are possession of stolen property and grand larceny in the fourth degree. As those are both class E felonies, they can result in four-year prison sentences and a fine. The maximum fine amount is either $5,000 or twice as much as you fraudulently obtained.
You can be charged with multiple violations, in which case you’d be facing potential penalties from all of them.
Defenses to Credit Card Fraud Charges
Although your defense strategy depends on the circumstances of your case, there are two typical defenses when the charge is credit card fraud.
The first and most effective is that the credit card use was authorized. If the cardholder gave you permission to use the card but forgot about it, then the charges could be dropped with their testimony.
Otherwise, there’s the option of arguing that you didn’t use the credit card. It’s the prosecution’s responsibility to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you used the card, and the evidence may not confirm that.
Let’s say that you’re being charged with credit card fraud because an online order that was placed with the card went to your address. This doesn’t prove you placed the order, and in fact, many criminals make test orders first to verify that a credit card works. If the credit card was used in a store, security footage may not clearly show the person who swiped a card.
How We Can Help You with Credit Card Fraud Charges
The most important thing to do when you’re dealing with credit card fraud charges is getting a lawyer immediately. We have experienced credit card fraud lawyers available who can help you with your case today.
When you hire us, we’ll look at all the evidence in your case to decide on the right defense, and we’ll advise you on what your options are. We’ll be there to represent you through any questioning and in court, if your case goes to trial. If a plea bargain is your option, we’ll work hard to negotiate a favorable deal with the prosecution.