Credit card fraud is increasingly becoming a menace in Florida. For this reason, law enforcement and the prosecution are taking these cases very seriously. In addition, the offense may also be prosecuted at the federal level. Thus, making it even more challenging for an accused person to navigate the criminal justice system easily.
As such, if you or anyone you love is facing charges related to credit card fraud, it is imperative to take quick steps to avoid the consequences associated with a conviction. Essentially, such efforts will ensure that your civil liberties and legal rights are protected.
That said, retaining a competent and qualified attorney after you’re charged should be the first step to helping you avoid conviction.
Here is what you need to know about credit card fraud in Florida and how a criminal defense attorney who practices credit card fraud can help you avoid conviction.
How is Credit Card Fraud Defined in Florida?
Credit Card fraud is a white-collar crime governed by Florida Statute 817.61. The aforementioned statute defines it as a crime that is committed when a person does the following subsequently:
- Uses a credit card with a genuine intention to defraud a merchant
- The credit card was obtained illegally and was presented under the pretence the actual credit card holder approved the use.
- Obtains money or goods or anything of value using the card.
Put briefly, the element of intent to defraud is essential during the prosecution. In other words, the prosecution has to prove that the alleged offender had premeditated the offense. Failure to establish this may render the charges baseless because of lacking cogent or strong evidence.
Common Types of Credit Card Fraud in Florida
There are various types of credit card fraud allegedly committed in Florida. These types of credit card fraud are distinct, and the nature of the charges often determines whether the charge will be prosecuted at the state or federal levels.
Below are the common types of credit card fraud offenses:
- ATM fraud :is considered the most common form of credit card fraud, typically involving stealing through an ATM or a credit card.
- Cyber Card theft: Put briefly, this entails fraudulently using a card online. This might involve phishing scams or even hacking. Essentially, such an offense is often committed with the sole aim of obtaining illegal information which may be used for financial gain.
- Unlawful retail use: This involves using a credit or debit card without consent from the cardholder. For example, suppose a person deceptively states that they have express authority or permission of the cardholder and uses it at a retail or banking location. In that case, they are considered to have committed a crime.
- International retail fraud: This typically involves obtaining card data and misusing or selling it internationally for financial gain. As such, the crime prompts federal investigation and is likely to be prosecuted federally.
What are the Potential Penalties for Credit Card Fraud in Florida?
Apparently, it is difficult to state the potential penalties for a credit card fraud offense in Florida. This is because the facts surrounding the case play a crucial role in determining the potential penalties. Also, the fact that credit card fraud can be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony means that the penalty for the offense isn’t definite. However, a criminal defense attorney can help shed light on the potential penalties you are likely to face if you are charged with credit card fraud in Florida.
Put briefly, two key factors are considered when determining the potential penalty for a credit card fraud offense:
- The amount the card was used within six months
- The overall value of any goods obtained within six months
Misdemeanor Credit Card Fraud
In such a case, the accused person is likely to face a maximum of one year jail time, probation or a $1000 fine.
Felony Credit Card Fraud
A felony is a serious offense. As such, credit card fraud is classified as a felony if, in any six months, a credit card is unlawfully used twice or items valued at more than $ 100 are obtained.
A successful conviction is often accompanied by a maximum of five years in prison, five years probation and a $5,000 fine.
Noteworthy is that a credit card fraud charge prosecuted federally is more likely to be accompanied by stringent penalties than that prosecuted at the federal level.
How can a Criminal Defense Attorney help you with a Credit Card Fraud Charge in Florida?
The role of an attorney on any charge should not be underestimated. An attorney can safeguard your rights and secure your freedom even if you feel the charges have merit. To achieve a successful outcome, an attorney sets out to build a robust defense against the prosecution by challenging any evidence or invoking certain defenses that will help prove your innocence.
To put this into context, when defending a credit card fraud charge, an attorney sets out to prove that you are innocent by eliminating the element of intent. Legally speaking, the prosecution must prove that you had intent to commit the charge you are accused of. Therefore, by failing to prove this, it would be clear that the charges lack merit.
That said, it is vital to have an attorney by your side from the onset who will help build a robust defense to the effect that you are exonerated.
Facing a Credit Card Fraud Charge in Florida? Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or your loved one is facing a credit card fraud charge in Florida, it is crucial to retain a competent and reputable attorney who will help defend you. Essentially, a successful defense means that you will have retained your liberty and, at the same time, have a good record.
At Meltzer & Bell, P.A. (Treasure Coast) we have a reputation for securing a successful defense against credit card fraud charges in Florida. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation.