Have you been accused of credit card fraud? If so, you need to know what you are up against. This is a serious theft-related felony in Texas and could lead to months or even years in jail or prison. Depending on the value of money, property, or services you are accused of benefiting from, you could wind up paying thousands of dollars in court costs, fines, and restitution. However, before you resign yourself to the worst case scenario, consider how an experienced Houston credit card fraud lawyer could help.
At The Law Offices of Ned Barnett, we believe a misunderstanding or mistake should not leave you in prison for years and with costs, you cannot afford. We know how to analyze your situation and build a solid defense against even the most severe charges.
Call us today at (713) 222-6767 to schedule a free consultation.
Credit Card Fraud in Texas
There are a number of ways you might unlawfully use a credit or debit card that leads to criminal charges. All of them boil down to using – or intending to use – a card that was not yours and you did not have permission to use. Under Texas Penal Code Section 32.31, you commit the crime of credit card or debit card abuse if:
- With the intent to fraudulently benefit, you present or use a credit or debit card with the knowledge that it was not issued to you and without the cardholder’s consent, or that has expired, been revoked, or canceled.
- With the intent to benefit, you use a fake credit or debit card or the pretend number or description of a fake card.
- You receive a benefit from credit or debit card abuse defined by law.
- You steal a credit or debit card or receive a credit or debit card you know is stolen, and intent to use, sell, or transfer the stolen card to another person other than the cardholder.
- You buy a credit or debit card from a person you know is not the issuer.
- You sell a credit or debit card despite not being the issuer.
- You convince the cardholder to use their credit or debit card to obtain property or services for your benefit knowing the cardholder is unable to pay.
- You possess a credit or debit card that is not your, without the cardholder’s permission, and intend to use it.
- You possess two or more incomplete credit or debit cards that were not issued to you and intend to complete them without the issuer’s consent.
Essentially, if you are caught with a debit or credit card that is not in your name or no longer valid and you cannot prove you had permission to use it, then you will likely face charges of credit card fraud under Texas law. Additionally, if you somehow obtain a benefit of cash, property, or services through the use of intended use of another person’s or a fake credit card, you will be charged with a crime.
If you are facing charged with credit or debit card fraud in Texas, yet you believe that your actions were entirely legal, call The Law Offices of Ned Barnett immediately.
Statutory Penalties for Credit Card Fraud
The fraudulent use of a credit or debit card is a state jail felony in Texas. If convicted, you can be sent to a state jail for as few as 180 days or up to two years. You can also be fined up to $10,000. If you caused another person to lose out on money, property, or services, you will probably have to pay restitution as well.
If you are accused of committing credit card fraud against an elderly person, who is 65-years-old or older, then you will be charged with a third-degree felony. This is punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000 as well as restitution.
Collateral Consequences of a Credit Card Fraud Conviction
In addition to incarceration, fines, and restitution, a conviction for credit card fraud will leave you with a permanent criminal record that includes a felony. This will create a number of problems for you as you try and make your way in the world after. A criminal record, even without any indications of past violent behavior, can make it difficult to rent an apartment. It can also make it challenging to get a job. With a fraud-related conviction, you will be barred from certain government and financial positions entirely. Potential employers also may not trust you around cash or the company’s finances. In general, it is best to work with an experienced Houston credit card fraud lawyer to try to avoid a conviction and a criminal record at all costs.
Defending Against Credit Card Fraud Allegations
There are a number of defenses against credit card fraud charges. First, you may be able to prove there has been a mistake in identity and you were not the individual who fraudulently used or intended to use someone else’s card. This type of defense is strengthened by having an alibi at the time of the offense.
Second, you and your attorney can seek to show the court that you lacked the necessary intent to commit the crime. For example, you may have evidence you used another person’s credit card believing you had permission to do so and with the intention of paying that person back.
Third, depending on the circumstances, you may have lacked the knowledge that you were using another person’s, false, canceled, or expired card. If this is the case, your attorney will seek to prove you had no knowledge of participating in an illegal act.
A Houston Credit Card Fraud Lawyer Can Help
If you have been charged with fraudulently using a credit or debit card in Texas, contact an experienced Houston theft lawyer from The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 for a free and confidential consultation.
Attorney Ned Barnett is board certified as a criminal lawyer by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He has decades of experience as both a state and federal prosecutor and as a criminal defense attorney. He understands the nuances of fraud-related crimes and can build you the strongest defense possible under the law.