Fraudulent use of a credit card is a common form of credit card fraud that is associated with serious consequences in Florida. Under Florida Statute Section 817.61, the crime of fraudulent use of a credit card is committed when:
- An individual uses a credit card intending to defraud a merchant;
- The credit card was obtained unlawfully, known to be forged, or presented to the merchant under the pretense that the owner of the credit card authorized its use; or
- The individual obtains goods, money, services, or anything else of value from the merchant.
At Musca Law, our Florida credit card fraud defense lawyers work tirelessly to safeguard the legal rights and freedom of those who are accused of committing the crime of fraudulent use of a credit card. While this type of offense does not usually involve violence, the repercussions can nonetheless be as severe. That is why it is critical that you contact Musca Law today at 1 (888) 484-5057 so that our attorneys can develop the strongest and most effective defense possible on your behalf.
The offense of fraudulent use of a credit card is unique because even if the accused uses a credit card multiple times within a six-month period of time, it is treated by the prosecution as a single offense rather than numerous discrete offenses.
The Penalties Associated with the Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card in Florida
The penalties associated with the offense of fraudulent use of a credit card are determined by either:
- The amount of times the credit cards was used within a six-month period of time; or
- The value of the goods or services that the accused obtained within a six-month period of time.
Misdemeanor Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card
In Florida, if an individual, within a six-month time period, uses a credit card illegally less than two times or obtained items valued at less than $100, then he or she may be charged with a misdemeanor. Under these circumstances, it is a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida, which carries with it a punishment of up to one year in prison, one year of probation, and a $1,000 monetary penalty. Depending upon the facts of one’s case, the judge may, in his or her discretion, sentence an offender to probation or impose the statutory maximum jail time of one year.
Felony Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card
In Florida, if an individual, within a six-month time period, uses a credit card illegally more than two times or obtained goods or services valued at over $100, he or she may be charged with a felony. Under these circumstances, it is a third-degree felony in Florida, which carries with it a punishment of up to five years in prison, five years of probation, and a $5,000 monetary penalty.
A felony fraudulent use of a credit card is a Level 2 offense under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code. This means that the judge has the discretion to sentence an individual to probation or may impose the statutory maximum of five years in jail.
Defenses to Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card
Where there are pretrial and trial defenses that may be raised on an accused’s behalf, there are additional defenses which may prove to be effective in fighting against the charge of fraudulent use of a credit card, which include the following:
Double jeopardy – since the majority of credit card-related offenses are deemed degrees of the same crime, a judge can only impose one conviction, even if the individual is charged with numerous theft and credit card fraud-related crimes. Any additional or subsequently imposed charges may be dismissed pursuant to double jeopardy grounds.
Intent to Defraud – the fraudulent use of a credit card requires that the individual intended to defraud a merchant at the time when the transaction occurred. If the individual asserts that despite not being the cardholder, he or she intended to pay the cardholder back, then this defense may be raised.
Additional Consequences of a Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card Conviction
Having to face a white collar crime such as the fraudulent use of a credit card can be a frightening experience, and may lead to serious repercussions in addition to jail time, probation, and monetary fines. Specifically, this offense can carry with it a certain stigma given that there has been extensive media coverage and a public outcry over the problem of identity theft over the past few years. This results in prosecutors often “making an example” of the offender where the community has the ability to see that those who commit the crime of fraudulent use of a credit card are not treated leniently.
For an individual who pleads guilty to this form of credit card fraud, the social stigma associated with this crime makes it important for him or her to hire a seasoned Florida criminal defense attorney. An experienced attorney can reason with the judge and present the accused’s side of the story. The attorney can also present to the judge the defendant’s personal set of circumstances, regret for past conduct, and a commitment to lead a crime free life in the future. If a defendant plans to go to trial, an experienced attorney will take all measures necessary to highlight the weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case, conduct his or her own investigation of the matter, develop strong defense tactics, and then convincingly present the case to the jury. These measures should never be attempted on one’s own, as it can lead to unnecessary prosecution and other severe consequences.
Contact Musca Law Today. Your Life and Your Liberty Depend Upon It!
Facing the prospects of a credit card fraud-related crime in Florida can be terrifying, as is can negatively affect your life for years to come. When you work a seasoned Florida credit fraud defense attorney at Musca Law, he or she will help you to challenge your charges to the fullest extent of the law. Our firm’s attorneys are among The National Trial Lawyers – Top 100 Trial Lawyers, included in the 2012 Florida Super Lawyers® for criminal defense, and boast 10.0 Superb Avvo ratings. Our attorneys are skilled, experienced, tenacious, and relentless when it comes to defending our clients. To learn more about how Musca Law can make a difference for you, call (888) 484-5057 today.