Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card (Credit Card Fraud) is considered a crime of dishonesty. If you are convicted, people will think you are a thief or a person of bad character. My experience with defending people accused of Credit Card Fraud, or other theft offenses, is that usually they are good people who made a serious mistake in judgment; decent, hardworking people who found themselves in a desperate situation who acted out of fear.
As your Fort Walton Beach Credit Card Fraud attorney, it is my job to make sure the prosecutor and the judge see you for the person you are, not just for the one mistake you made. In order to minimize the damage this charge will have on your record, your reputation, and your future, it is important to take steps right away to protect yourself.
The two most important steps you can take are to (1) retain an experienced criminal lawyer as soon as possible, and (2) do not talk to the police if they want to question you about this charge.
Credit Card Fraud in Fort Walton Beach under Florida Law
According to Florida Statute 817.61, a person is guilty of Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card under the following conditions:
“a person who, with intent to defraud, uses, for the purpose of obtaining money, goods, services, or anything else of value, a credit card obtained or retained in violation of this part or a credit card which he or she knows is forged, or who obtains money, goods, services, or anything else of value by representing without the consent of the cardholder, that he or she is the holder of a specified card or by representing that he or she is the holder of a card and such card has not in face been issued violates this section.”
In other words, if you use someone else’s credit card to buy goods or services and you pass it off as your own card, you are guilty of credit card fraud.
Penalty for Credit Card Fraud in Fort Walton Beach
Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card will either be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the number of times the card was used, or the value of the merchandise obtained.
Misdemeanor Credit Card Fraud
If the credit card was used less than 2 times within a 6 month time frame OR if the total value of the merchandise obtained was less than $100.00, the charge will be a first degree misdemeanor offense.
Possible penalties include:
- Up to 1 year in jail
- Up to 1 year on probation
- A $1,000.00 fine
- A conviction on your record for a crime of dishonesty
Felony Credit Card Fraud
If the credit card was used more than 2 times within 6 months OR if the value of the merchandise obtained was more than $100.00 (even if it was only done once), the charge will be a third degree felony.
Possible penalties include:
- Up to 5 years in prison
- Up to 5 years on probation
- A $5,000.00 fine
- A felony conviction on your record for the rest of your life
Defenses to Credit Card Fraud in Fort Walton Beach
The first steps in building your defense and protecting your future start right now. As I said at the beginning, you need to hire the best criminal defense lawyer you can find, and you need to tell the police that you will not talk to them if they try to get you to incriminate yourself. Following these two pieces of advice increase your chances of success dramatically.
In order for the prosecutor to prove you are guilty of Credit Card Fraud, they will have to prove that you had intent to defraud the holder of the card. This is an area where we can raise doubt about your guilt if you had someone’s permission to use the card OR if you used their card with the intention of paying them back.
Pretrial Intervention (PTI)
PTI is a diversion program. It must be negotiated with the prosecutor. They will assign you a series of conditions that must be completed within a set period of time. Once those conditions are met, the Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card charge against you will be dismissed. Once the charge is dismissed, if you otherwise qualify, you will be eligible to have your arrest expunged.
Reduce to a Misdemeanor
The next best thing to having the felony charge of Credit Card Fraud dismissed is to have it reduced to a misdemeanor. This saves you from the possibility of going to prison, and it also protects you from having a felony conviction on your record.
Have You Been Arrested For a Robbery in Florida?
If you've been arrested for robbery or theft in Fort Walton Beach, call Flaherty & Merrifield at (850) 243-6097 for a free, confidential case review.