New Jersey Credit Card Fraud Defense Attorneys

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Law enforcement officers and the criminal courts in New Jersey take credit card fraud and theft crimes extremely seriously. If you are arrested and convicted on charges of credit card fraud or theft, you could face significant prison time and fines, along with the long-lasting stigma of a criminal record for fraud or theft.

At Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC, each one of our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys are former prosecutors. When you are facing criminal charges related to credit card fraud or theft, you need an experienced credit card fraud lawyer who can protect your rights, lay out your options, and guide you through the process with the goal of a favorable outcome in your case. We are available 24/7 to help you out with a free initial consultation. Call today.

Schedule a free case review with a New Jersey credit card fraud defense lawyer from Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC to talk to one of our experienced lawyers about your case.

What Is Credit Card Fraud in New Jersey?

New Jersey’s Credit Card Fraud Act outlaws three types of credit card fraud:

  • False statements made in obtaining a credit card
  • Fraudulent use of a credit card
  • Theft of a credit card

The offense of making a false statement in obtaining a credit card is defined by The New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice statute 2C § 21-6 as a “person who makes or causes to be made, either directly or indirectly, any false statement in writing, knowing it to be false and with the intent that it be relied on, respecting his identity or that of any other person, firm, or corporation, or his financial condition or that of any other person, firm, or corporation, for the purpose of procuring the issuance of a credit card.”

Fraudulent use of a credit card under the Act is defined as:

  • Using a credit card knowing that it was revoked, expired, or forged
  • Falsely representing oneself as a cardholder
  • A store or business owner furnishing goods or services to a purchaser using a card known to the store/business owner as stolen, forged, expired, or revoked; or a store/business owner falsely representing to the credit card company/bank that goods and services were furnished in order to obtain payment for those goods and services
  • Possession of equipment used to forge credit cards
  • Receiving money, goods, or services by known credit card fraud or theft

Theft of a credit card involves six different types of acts that involve stealing a valid credit card or making or obtaining a forged credit card. Credit card skimming is also a notable offense.

Common Types of Credit Card Theft Crimes

Under the Credit Card Fraud Act, types of credit card theft include:

  • Taking or using a credit card without the consent of the valid cardholder or authorized user
  • Receiving and holding/using a credit card known to the recipient to be lost, mislaid, or misdelivered
  • Selling or buying knowingly stolen credit cards
  • Forging, counterfeiting, or altering a credit card with the purpose to defraud others
  • Obtaining a credit card to secure debt with the intent to defraud
  • Unauthorized signing of a credit card

How Credit Card Crimes Are Charged in New Jersey?

Most credit card fraud and theft crimes in New Jersey are charged as a fourth-degree crime (also known as a felony in other jurisdictions). Fourth-degree credit card crimes under the Credit Card Fraud Act include:

  • Making false statements to obtain a credit card
  • Taking or using a credit card without the holder’s or user’s consent
  • Receiving a known lost, mislaid, or misdelivered credit card
  • Selling stolen credit cards
  • Using a credit card as security for a debt with the intent to defraud
  • The unauthorized signing of a credit card

A conviction for a fourth-degree crime in New Jersey can result in a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison and a fine of $10,000, in addition to court fees and any victim restitution ordered by the court.

However, some credit card fraud and theft offenses are charged as a more serious third-degree crime, including:

  • Forging, counterfeiting, or altering a credit card with the purpose to defraud others
  • Use of a credit card with intent to defraud
  • Furnishing goods or services to a purchaser using a known forged, expired, or revoked credit card
  • Possession of credit card forging equipment and materials
  • Use of stolen, altered, or fictitious credit cards

A conviction for third-degree crimes can result in a sentence of up to three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

Potential Defenses in Your Credit Card Fraud Case

Even when you have been charged with credit card fraud or theft, you may have legal or factual defenses available to you to fight your charges. Many times, a credit card fraud or theft charge will arise from a simple misunderstanding.

Examples of potential defenses that may be used in your credit card fraud or credit card theft case, depending on the specific circumstances of your case, may include:

  • Mistaken identity – Many credit card theft and fraud offenses don’t involve catching someone “in the act,” but instead require a law enforcement investigation to determine the identity of the perpetrator. Many other crimes take place over the internet. As a result, law enforcement will need to rely on eyewitness testimony, surveillance video footage, or computer data to determine the identity of the perpetrator. If the police “got the wrong guy” in arresting you for credit card fraud or theft, your defense may include showing that the prosecution cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt your identity as the perpetrator of the charged offense.
  • Lack of evidence – Many credit card fraud and theft charges require the offender to possess a stolen, forged, or fraudulently obtained credit card, or possess goods or services that were fraudulently obtained by the use of a credit card. But if the prosecution cannot prove that you had possession of the credit card or the goods or services, the state may not be capable of proving a required element of your charge.
  • Lack of intent – Most credit card fraud and theft offenses require the offender to have criminal intent. With these types of charges, this usually involves proving the defendant knew that a credit card was stolen, lost, forged, altered, or otherwise fraudulently obtained, or that a merchant knew they were being offered a fraudulent credit card, or that the defendant used a credit card with intent to defraud another person or entity. However, if you did not know of the stolen, forged, or otherwise fraudulent nature of the credit card or you did not intend to defraud another with the use of a credit card, the prosecution may not be capable of meeting its burden of proof to convict you of your charges.
  • Authorization – Where you are charged with taking or using a credit card without authorization of the cardholder or with the unauthorized signing of a credit card, presenting evidence that you had proper authorization (for example, your parent gave you their credit card to make a specific purchase, or you were permitted unrestricted use of your parent’s credit card), or you had power of attorney from the cardholder and were authorized to sign credit cards on their behalf, will likely serve as a complete defense to the charge.

In addition to these legal or factual challenges to your charges, other defenses to credit card fraud and theft charges include challenging the admissibility of evidence on the grounds that it was obtained in violation of your constitutional rights (such as when investigators conduct a search of your person, vehicle, home, or computer without a valid warrant or without sufficient probable cause to validate a warrant or conduct a warrantless search).