Under the California Penal Code, there are several different sections relating to the umbrella crime of fraud. California Penal Code section 484e-484j deal with crimes involving credit card fraud, debit card fraud, and fraud involving other access cards. These crimes involve possessing another person’s credit card, debit card or access card or card information, forging credit card or debit card information, such as making a counterfeit card or signing an individual’s name without his consent, using a fraudulent credit card or debit card to procure goods or services while knowing the card to be invalid, possessing equipment to make fraudulent cards, and publishing credit card information with the intent to defraud, among other crimes.
Pursuant to California law, these crimes are generally “wobbler” offenses, meaning they can be charged as either felonies or misdemeanors depending on the defendant’s criminal record, the number of counts of fraud, the amount of money or goods stolen, etc… As a felony, these crimes generally carry with them up to three years in state prison. As a misdemeanor, on the other hand, these crimes may carry with them up to one year in county jail. Typically, if the amount of goods or money taken was at a value less than $950, these crimes will be charged as misdemeanors, and may ultimately only carry with them up to six months in county jail. An experienced attorney, however, will be able to assist you in avoiding any jail time and providing you with alternatives to jail, including probation, fines, work service, community service, etc…
Various defenses to crimes of fraud include lack of intent to defraud, such as the example of a person using an expired credit card to make a purchase, without the knowledge that it is expired. In that example, he or she would not have the requisite intent to defraud. In addition, if you are charged with the crime of credit or debit card fraud, but you were only with another individual who was actually the one using the card, you may also have the defense of lack of knowledge of the crime taking place. Many times, individuals entering stores together are all charged with the same crime of fraud as aiders and abetters, even if all individuals did not have the requisite knowledge or intent. An knowledgable attorney will be able to present your defense to the prosecutor or judge to get your charges dismissed, without having to take your case to jury trial.
Other related crimes to that of fraud include forgery, under California Penal Code section 470 and identity theft under California Penal Code section 530 and 530.5. These sections are also wobbler offenses, and a skilled criminal defense attorney can file a motion to reduce these charges to misdemeanors pursuant to Penal Code section 17(b).
If you are facing any type of fraud, forgery or identity theft charge, contact an experienced fraud attorney today at The Law Offices of Parwana Anwar, PLC for your free consultation. Our attorneys have prosecuted and defended all varieties of fraud charges and will provide your case with the personalized attention it needs to ensure every viable defense is explored and argued. Any fraud conviction will also impact your ability to gain and maintain employment. This will negatively impact your entire life. So don’t face the system without the best defense by your side. Contact a Murrieta fraud attorney today.