Posted on September 23, 2015

Los Angeles Credit Card Fraud Defense Attorney │ California P.C. §§ 484e, 484f, 484g, 484h, 484i, 484j

With the advancement of technology comes more sophisticated crimes such as credit card fraud which law enforcement is well aware of and seeks to aggressively investigate. It’s a billion dollar market industry and not often prosecuted because tracing the suspect not only takes time but consumes law enforcement resources in which they use towards catching and arresting violent offenders. When accused of committing credit card fraud, normally you will be charged with commercial burglary, forgery, identity theft, and felony grand theft if the amount exceeds $950. Consequently your level of custody exposure increases substantially if the prosecution seeks to file additional charges against you in addition to credit card fraud. Furthermore, when involved in a large credit card fraud operation, you could expect to be indicted in federal court and have to additionally defend accusations in federal and state court.

Credit card fraud is governed under California Penal Code § 484e, 484f, 484g, 484h, 484i, 484j. What sets each statute apart is the manner in which the credit card was used, how much was stolen from the actual/legal card owner, and whether you replicated the card or stolen their identity to complete the transaction. Furthermore, if you “signed” the receipt as another person and not your true identity, then you could face forgery charges as well. Thus, it’s possible for you to go around a local mall using someone else’s credit card, or a credit card in which you replicated, and commit a substantial number of felony offenses within a matter of minutes.

When you’re arrested for credit card fraud, the police officers draft a report of your arrest and collect the evidence. In most instances, the credit card company has already sparked an investigation and are working in conjunction with law enforcement to apprehend you. Usually a detective or police officer attempts to contact you regarding these accusations in an effort you give incriminating statements. Do not make any statement to law enforcement and demand the presence of a lawyer. Once the police are finished with their investigation, they forward their arrest report(s) is then forwarded to a specialized prosecuting unit called the “High Tech Crimes” division where a specially assigned prosecutor will prosecute the charges against you. This specialized unit is highly trained and knowledgeable of the law when it comes to fraud and technology crimes. Therefore, it is imperative that you retain a skilled fraud crimes defense attorney to defend the accusations against you. The best approach to defeating fraud crimes is early intervention by an attorney at the cases earliest juncture.

Legal Defenses to Credit Card Fraud

All fraud crimes include an element that you acted willfully and intentionally in carrying out the offense. In other words, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you acted with the specific intent to defraud another person or business. But if you did not acted with specific intent and perhaps acted negligently, on accident, or had consent with the true owner, then you are not guilty of credit card fraud. Additionally, you may have valid search & seizure violation claim where the police obtained the evidence against you in violation of your Fourth Amendment right of the United States Constitution. This may be especially true if law enforcement gathered evidence against you without a search warrant. Furthermore, if you were not admonished of your Miranda rights, then you may have a valid claim to suppress your incriminating statements made to a detective. In the event your statements are deemed inadmissible, then the case against you becomes even more challenging and burdensome for the prosecutor. In most instances, the evidence will be deemed inadmissible and prosecutor will be unable to proceed with the case.

Credit Card Fraud Punishment

The punishment for credit card fraud differs depending on which particular statute you were convicted of. Most credit card fraud cases are wobbler offenses which means the prosecutor holds discretion to charge you with either a felony or misdemeanor. Factors the prosecutor will consider are the overall sophistication of the offense, the amount stolen, the desires of the alleged victim for prosecution, your criminal history, and whether this was an isolated instance or continuous course of conduct spanning over days, weeks, or even months. Some credit card fraud cases are misdemeanor offenses which means your exposure is up to one year in the county jail. However, if you’re convicted of a felony, then you consequently face a minimum of 16 months in the county jail. In addition, if the amount exceeds $100,000 or $150,000 or $200,000 then you could face additional enhancements making the offense a mandatory state prison sentence. Additionally, the court will order you to repay a restitution amount for the damages.

Reduction to a Misdemeanor

As mentioned above, some credit card fraud offenses can be filed as either a felony or misdemeanor offense. In the event you’re convicted of a wobbler offense then you may be eligible to reduce your conviction to a misdemeanor pursuant to California Penal Code § 17(b). There are limitations and conditions when seeking this remedy. For example, your conviction must not have resulted in you spending time in state prison. In addition, the court will look to see whether you suffered any probation violations and the reason you’re seeking reduction. Reasons for seeking reduction may include, but are not limited to, military duty, child custody, immigration, and employment. If you have been convicted of credit card fraud then contact the Law Offices of John D. Rogers concerning your eligibility in reducing your conviction to a misdemeanor.

Credit Card Fraud Expungement

Pursuant to California Penal Code § 1203.4, if you’ve been convicted of credit card fraud then you may be eligible to expunge your conviction. As noted above, there are conditions that must be fulfilled when obtaining this remedy. For example, you must have completed your probation term, paid all outstanding fines and fees, completed all programs / counseling, and your conviction must not have resulted in a state prison term. When seeking to dismiss your conviction under P.C. § 1203.4, a specific petition is required to file with the court. When your petition is approved, the judge will withdraw its finding of guilt, enter a not guilty plea, and dismiss the case pursuant to the 1203.4 statute. From that point forward, you will be released from all “penalties and disabilities” resulting from your conviction. There are a number of benefits that follow when obtaining this remedy, especially in the private employment sector. If you’re seeking to expunge your conviction for credit card fraud, contact the Law Offices of John D. Rogers today to discuss your eligibility.

Example

Dan was shopping with his girlfriend at a local Los Angeles mall on the weekend. Dan’s girlfriend gave him her credit card and told him that he’s free to purchase anything he wants at any high fashion clothing store. Dan took his girlfriend’s credit card and went into an expensive retail men’s clothing store. He picked out two business suits totaling $2,000. While checking out, Dan gave the cashier his girlfriend’s credit card and the cashier ran the card where it went through. After completing the purchase Dan walked out the store and returned his girlfriend her credit card. A few minutes later, mall security detain Dan pending a theft crime allegation. The police arrive a few minutes later and arrest Dan for credit card fraud, commercial burglary, grand theft, and identity theft. In this case, Dan would not be guilty of any of the allegation against him based on the mere fact that his girlfriend consented for him to use her credit card. Additionally, Dan did not harbor any specific intent to defraud the stores.

Related Offenses

Penal Code § 487:Grand Theft
Penal Code § 503.5(a): Identity Theft
Penal Code § 459: Commercial Burglary
Penal Code § 470: Forgery

Contact Los Angeles Credit Card Defense Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been arrested, charged, or under investigation for credit card fraud in Los Angeles, then contact Los Angeles Credit Card Fraud Defense Attorney John Rogers at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers. Call 877-888-9820 for a free confidential consultation concerning your rights and defenses.

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