Proving Credit Card Fraud: A Heavy Burden of Proof for Florida Prosecutors
A woman was charged with more than a dozen offenses related to fraud when recently stopped at Fort Lauderdale’s Hollywood International Airport. According to the Sun-Sentinel article, she was in possession of numerous credit cards intended for counterfeit purposes and admitted to purchasing the account numbers and identification details of the owners. She was arrested for intent to use the information for fraudulent purposes, raising questions about what a prosecutor must prove to get a conviction for credit card fraud in Florida.
Proving Credit Card Fraud
In general, fraud is defined as illegally obtaining something of value from someone through the use of deception. A Florida prosecutor has a hefty burden of proof to convict you for credit card fraud. The State must prove that:
- You were using a credit or debit card with intent to defraud;
- The card was unlawfully obtained, a known forgery, or presented by you under the pretense that you were an authorized user;
- You obtained money, products or services through use of the card.
In addition, it is important to note that multiple charges within a six-month period constitute separate instances. The distinction is important when you look at the legal consequences for multiple fraud offenses.
Penalties for Credit Card Fraud Conviction in Fort Lauderdale
You can be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony if convicted in Florida, which carry different penalties.
- Misdemeanor Fraud for Credit Card Use: If you unlawfully used a card less than two times within six months, for an amount under $100, a judge may impose a sentence up to one year in jail, one year of probation, and/or $1,000 in fines.
- Felony Fraudulent Credit Card Use: Using a card in any six-month period more than twice, obtaining items over $100 in value, is a third-degree felony. Penalties may include five years in prison, five years on probation, and/or $5,000 in fines.
Defenses to Credit Card Fraud
There are a number of legal concepts that may allow you to argue defenses in your favor in a case involving credit or debit card fraud. Typically, these would involve arguments that contradict the prosecutor’s evidence in the case against you, such as:
- You were not using the credit card with intent to defraud. For example, you believed that you were using the card for a proper purpose.
- You believed that you were using a card that was lawfully obtained or given to you by the bank, under the assumption that you were an authorized user.
- You purchased or otherwise obtained good or services through use of a card that you believed was properly authorized.
The burden of a Florida prosecutor is definitely heavy, so presenting your defenses may make it possible to avoid the criminal penalties of a charge for credit or debit card fraud.
Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale
If you or a loved one has been charged with credit card fraud, an experienced defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik can advocate on your behalf and guide you through the criminal justice system. Contact Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation in the Fort Lauderdale area.