There are many crimes associated with illegal credit card use.
If you are accused of a credit card or ATM card criminal charge, you need to understand that prosecutors want to get publicity for aggressively charging such cases. A prosecution for a simple mistake is not fair, and you can fight an overly harsh prosecution by the government.
As soon as you become aware that there is a criminal investigation and the government has any interest in you as a witness or a defendant, you need to contact an elite criminal defense expert. Because law enforcement is so aggressive in prosecuting crimes involving credit cards and ATMs, you will want a lawyer who will fight for you and leave no stone unturned to shield you from these serious charges or a severe sentence.
What kinds of actions are illegal?
Credit cards, ATM debit cards, and rebate or gift cards are some of the items that are known as financial transaction devices (FTD’s). Charges relating to alleged misuse of these cards are complicated and technical, and a defense attorney with experience in such technicalities is necessary to defend those people charged.
Charges and penalties for using an FTD with intent to defraud by withdrawing or transferring funds are based upon the fraud value:
- Less than $200.00: 93-day misdemeanor, 2 years of probation, and a $500.00 fine or 3 times the fraud value, whichever is greater;
- Between $200.00 and $1,000.00: 1-year misdemeanor, 2 years of probation, and a $2,000.00 fine, or 3 times the fraud value, whichever is greater;
- Between $1,000.00 and $20,000.00: 5-year felony, 5 years of probation, and a $10,000.00 fine or 3 times the fraud value, whichever is greater;
- $20,000.00 or more: 10-year felony, 5 years of probation, and a $15,000.00 fine or 3 times the fraud value, whichever is greater.
These charges and penalties can be increased if the defendant has a prior record for FTD fraud. Furthermore, amounts fraudulently withdrawn in separate incidents under a common scheme or course of conduct within 12 months can be added together and the total amount can then be used to increase the charge and penalty.
Other crimes associated with FTD’s include:
- Making a false statement in an FTD application;
- Forging a cardholder’s signature;
- Overcharging a cardholder for a purchase;
- Stealing, selling, circulating or possessing a stolen FTD;
- Creating, altering, forging an FTD;
- Using an FTD knowing it has been canceled or revoked by the owner or issuer;
- Fraudulently withdrawing or transferring funds in excess of the amount or frequency allowed by the FTD contract;
- Possession with intent to sell someone else’s FTD;
- Opening a card account in someone else’s name without their permission;
- Using card information to (without the actual card) to conduct unauthorized or fraudulent transactions.
These are all felony charges, and most of them carry at least a 4-year prison term and a $5,000.00 fine. Restitution is almost always ordered in addition to fines and costs.
Each of the credit card and ATM criminal charges can be brought in addition to other charges. For example, if a person stole the FTD inside of a building, he or she could also be charged with larceny in a building. If a person reached into a purse being carried by someone and stole an FTD out of the purse, a charge of larceny from a person (unarmed robbery) is possible.
Defenses to Credit Card and ATM Fraud Charges
There can be many good defenses to FTD criminal charges. Astute and reputable defense attorneys know that the law is complicated, and sometimes otherwise well-meaning and honest citizens run afoul of statutes they don’t know exist or don’t understand.
Permission – Sometimes, a family member, a significant other, former spouse, friend, or business colleague or employee comes into possession of a credit or debit card legitimately, and they did have the authority to use it, and then the relationship breaks up. This would prevent a charge of possession of a stolen card because it was acquired legally. Furthermore, such a prior relationship could block a charge of unauthorized use if it cannot be shown that the permission to use the card was revoked, especially if there was a history of allowable use of the card.
No intent to defraud – If there is any legitimate basis for the use of the card, an attorney will point it out. This defense will depend on how the card was used.
Constitutional violation – An unconstitutional search and seizure that led to the discovery of a card, even if it was stolen, would lead to the suppression of the card and a dismissal of all charges unless other independent evidence of guilt exists.
Accidentally exceeded card limits – Sometimes, people lose track of their account balance and inadvertently exceed the authorized amount. If the government claims that the card user exceeded the account limits on purpose, an astute and experienced defense attorney will be needed to resolve the matter.
These are just some potential defenses, and an astute criminal defense expert will always explore as many possible defenses as the facts allow. In some cases, the evidence of actual guilt will be overwhelming, and it may not be possible to have the charges dismissed and thrown out of court. However, in such cases, a determined and zealous defense attorney can have a significant positive impact on the sentence the client will face and may be able to get a plea bargain to reduced charges.
Defense Attorneys for Credit Card and ATM Card Charges in Michigan
The Defense Team at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has been successfully defending misdemeanor and felony financial fraud crimes such as credit card and ATM card cases, among others, for decades. We know how to defend these cases on a factual and technical basis. Prosecutors these days are well-educated and trained in financial matters. You will want an attorney who is highly experienced and knowledgeable regarding all of the technical aspects of financial crimes and possible defenses. If you call us for a free consultation, we will take the time to listen to your story, answer all your questions, and develop a plan to protect and defend you.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation, or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you promptly.