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Texas Credit Card Fraud: 3rd Degree Felony Charges Await

Posted on March 7, 2014 by Mintzer Law

Texas prosecutors and judges consider credit card fraud to be a serious violation of the state’s penal code. As such, a person charged with committing credit card fraud could be sentenced to serve time in prison and pay a $10,000 fine. A conviction would leave a person with a criminal record as a felony offender that could severely limit the individual’s employment opportunities.

Credit Card Fraud in Texas

The Texas Penal Code describes specific uses of a credit or debit card that constitute the crime of credit card fraud. Some of the uses described in section 32.31 of the Penal Code include:

  • Using a debit or credit card without the permission of the person to whom the card was issued
  • Using a revoked or cancelled card
  • Using a fake card or a fictitious card number
  • Stealing a card or using a card knowing that it has been stolen
  • Purchasing a credit card from someone who is known not to be the card issuer
  • Possessing a credit or debit card without the consent of the cardholder

Merchants can also be charged with credit card fraud if they are aware that a card used for purchasing services or merchandise is revoked, forged, expired or cancelled. Businesses that receive a credit or debit card payment for services or goods that were not actually provided to the cardholder can also be charged with fraud.

Defenses to Credit Card Fraud

Prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person charged with committing the crime knew that that a credit or debit card was stolen, revoked, expired, cancelled or used without the consent of the cardholder or in violation of the terms of card issuer’s terms of use.

The intent element of the crime means that the evidence must establish that the person or business charged with credit card fraud purposely engaged in the prohibited conduct. For example, using another person’s credit card in the mistaken belief that permission had been given probably would not be sufficient to establish guilt under the statute.

Credit Card Fraud Punishments

A violation of section 32.31 of the Texas Penal Code is a state jail felony unless the victim of the crime is 65 years of age or older. Prosecutors have the option of increasing the severity of the criminal charge from a state jail felony to a felony of the third degree when an elderly victim is involved.

The punishment for credit card fraud as a state jail felony can be a fine up to $10,000 and incarceration for 18 months to two years. The punishment for a felony of the third degree is a fine up to $10,000 and confinement to state prison for two to 10 years.

Because the potential penalties are so large, it is very important for those accused of credit card fraud to get a criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible. The faster you contact your lawyer, the more time he will have to spend working on your case. Reach out to Rand Mintzer today by calling 713-862-8880.