California Credit Card Fraud Laws under Penal Code Sections 484- 502.9

Possible Penalties for Credit Card Fraud in California

The consequences of facing federal or California allegations of credit card fraud can be devastating and life-threatening. The California law defines credit card fraud as using a person’s credit card without their consent or using a personal credit card knowing that it has expired or has been revoked. It is also against the law for a person to use a card, knowing that the balance is less than the cost of what they are buying or using a stolen or fake credit card to receive money or other services.

Credit card theft is a white-collar offense in California. California credit card fraud law makes it a crime for a person to sell, transfer, or convey an access card, with intent to defraud or without the card holder’s consent. It is furthermore a crime for a person to simply acquire or retain possession of an access carder without the permission of the account owner. A person found with either of the crimes mentioned above may be charged with grand theft.

People who are found guilty under California Penal Code section 484 (e) can be charged with a wobbler offense. This means it may be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of their crime. Misdemeanor penalties may include up to $1,000 fines, one-year imprisonment in county jail, or both. People convicted of a felony can receive more severe penalties of up to $10,000 penalties, one to three years imprisonment, or both.

The California statute of limitations for credit card fraud is seven years. However, there are some instances where this timeframe is either tolled or suspended. For example, if an accused person is out of state or is in prison, they can be charged with fraud for a longer time. The California statute of limitations law ensures that the accused cannot be prosecuted for an alleged crime many years after evidence and witnesses that may exonerate the accused are no longer available.

The primary defense against a credit card fraud charge is centered on that intent. If a person can prove that they did not have the intent to defraud another, then they may be found not guilty of credit card fraud. 

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