Credit card fraud is one of the fastest growing crimes in Texas. It victimizes thousands of people each year and costs businesses and banks millions of dollars in losses.
Because of the severe damages that this crime inflicts on the public, it is punished severely and can lead to long lasting and far reaching consequences. You can defend yourself if you have been accused of credit card fraud by hiring an experienced attorney to represent you.
What is Credit Card Fraud?
Credit card fraud in Texas is defined as stealing and illegally using credit card information to obtain goods and funds. Texas criminal codes regard it as one of the most serious crimes that merits severe penalties under the law.
The severity of punishment that you will face if you are found guilty of credit card fraud in Texas will depend on a number of factors, however. The court may take into consideration details like how you obtained the credit card information that you used, the value of the theft involved with your credit card fraud and in what manner that you used the illegally obtained credit card information.
Even the lightest of punishments for credit card fraud, however, can still have long lasting consequences on your life. They can make getting a job difficult or, depending on in what industry that you want to work, impossible. Employers like banks, hospitals and even grocery stores or retailers often will not employ people who have convictions of credit card fraud on their records.
With that, it can be imperative for you to hire an experienced credit card fraud attorney like Brett Podolsky to represent you if you have been charged with this crime. Your attorney may be effective in proving your innocence, helping you avoid severe penalties like jail time and fines and keeping the charge from showing up on your permanent record.
Examples of Credit Card Fraud
A number of actions can constitute as credit card fraud in Texas. When you want to avoid being charged with this offense, it is vital that you know what counts as credit card fraud under the state’s criminal codes.
The most obvious example of credit card fraud in Texas involves using a credit card that you found. If you find a credit card left behind on a counter at a store, for example, or lying on the ground, you cannot use it without the owner’s permission. If you use a credit card that you happen to find, you will be charged with credit card fraud.
Another example of credit card fraud involves hacking into a computer system and stealing customers’ credit card information. This type of credit card fraud commonly targets retail chains, restaurants, hotels and other large businesses. Regardless, if you engage in it, you will be charged with and punished for credit card fraud.
Other examples of credit card fraud in Texas include:
- Using a credit card that you get by mistake (such as if a person’s card is mailed to your address by mistake)
- Using a credit card without permission
- Falsifying information on a credit card application
- Buying or selling credit card information
- Stealing someone’s credit card
- Stealing someone’s personal information to obtain a credit card
- Making counterfeit credit cards
- Using counterfeit credit cards
- Cloning or skimming credit card information
Finally, you can be charged with credit card fraud if you forge a person’s signature while illegally using his or her credit card. All of these actions carry with them the potential of severe legal punishments, including jail time and expensive fines, in Texas.
Penalties for Credit Card Fraud
Texas punishes credit card fraud in a variety of ways. The severity of the punishment is designed to reflect the extent of the crime, the intent of the person charged and the amount of damages inflicted on the victim, among other factors. They all come into play when judges decide to what extent and in what manner people convicted of this crime should be punished.
Regardless, credit card fraud in Texas is charged as a state felony. If you are convicted of this crime, you could face anywhere from 180 days to up to two years in a state jail.
Further, you could be ordered to pay restitution to your victim. You may have to pay back all of the money that you stole from him or her or cost him or her in damages.
On top of paying back restitution, you also may be ordered to pay a steep civil fine. Depending on the severity of the credit card fraud, your civil fine could be as much as $10,000.
The penalties you face can be even harsher if your victim is elderly and aged 65 or older. Texas law metes out more severe punishments for committing credit card fraud against senior citizens in the state.
In fact, committing credit card fraud against someone who is 65 and older is charged as a third degree felony. It merits a prison sentence from two to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000. You also may be ordered to pay full restitution to your victim.
A number of factors can mitigate the extent and severity of your punishment for credit card fraud, however. Texas judges may consider factors like:
- Whether or not you have shown remorse for your crime
- Your overall character
- If you have previous criminal convictions
- How involved you were in the crime
- Whether or not you were coerced or forced into committing the crime before deciding on your sentence.
Defending Against Credit Card Fraud Charges in Texas
When you are charged with credit card, you have the right to defend yourself fully against it. Your best defense can come from hiring an experienced Texas credit card defense attorney and building a case to prove your innocence in court.
Your credit card defense attorney has the legal experience to know what information to obtain and what facts to use in your case to your advantage. He or she may be able to show the court that you are innocent of the charge and should not be found guilty.
Even if the evidence does not work to your favor, it can still be used to show that you should not be punished fully under Texas state law. Your credit card fraud attorney may be able to negotiate lower charges against you. He or she may also convince the judge or jury to sentence you to lesser punishments, such as community service or probation, rather than a jail sentence.
Finally, your credit card fraud attorney may be able to help secure a lesser civil fine and smaller restitution for you. You may avoid having to pay out thousands of dollars. You also may not have to pay back the full value of damages to the alleged victim.
Texas punishes credit card fraud with severe criminal and civil penalties. However, you can defend yourself if you are charged with it. You can hire an experienced credit card fraud attorney like Brett Podolsky to defend you against credit card fraud charges in Texas.