Once again, a major retailer has announced that it has been hacked and the credit card and personal information of its customers put at risk. Home Depot has become the latest in a long list of companies who have had their customer’s credit card and other payment information stolen and then sold to others who then use that information to make fraudulent purchases. Increasingly sophisticated hackers pose a growing threat and it is almost a certainty that large-scale cyber-attacks will continue to occur.
Credit Card Fraud in Texas is a Serious Felony
Whether it is through sophisticated hacking of secure computer systems or the pickpocketing of a wallet on a city bus, credit card fraud is treated as a serious crime in Texas, by state authorities as well as federal prosecutors.
Texas Penal Code §32.31 sets forth a number of different acts that constitute criminal credit card fraud, including:
- Obtaining a credit card from an individual who is not the issuer;
- Using a fictitious credit card or debit card number;
- Using a cancelled, expired or revoked credit or debit card;
- Using another’s card without permission;
- Possession of or stealing a debit or credit card with the intent to use it, transfer it or sell it to someone else;
- Selling goods or services to an individual knowing that person is using a stolen card.
Jail Time and Federal Prosecution
An offense under §32.31 is a state jail felony, except it can be charged as a third degree felony if the offense was committed against an elderly individual. In Texas, a state jail felony is punishable by 180 days to 2 years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
Additionally, certain credit card fraud and identity theft crimes can be prosecuted under numerous federal consumer protection, conspiracy, and mail and wire fraud laws, which may involve stiffer penalties than for state charges.
Consequences Beyond Jail Time
As a result of the deep public concern and high profile cases involving credit card fraud and identity theft, prosecutors are aggressively pursuing convictions for such crimes. The consequences of a conviction for credit card fraud don’t end with jail time. A conviction can affect your ability to obtain employment, get loans, acceptance into educational facilities or training, and leave a stain on your reputation that will be with you for a long, long time.
Additionally, many sentences require the offender to pay restitution for his crimes. If he can’t afford to repay the money, the government can seize assets, such as cars, houses, and other personal property. With so much riding on the outcome of your case, you need a criminal defense lawyer who can quickly assemble an intelligent, effective defense.
Credit card crimes can be complex, and the defense of such crimes can be equally complicated. A lawyer with the experience and understanding of how such cases are prosecuted can make all the difference. If you have been charged with any offense involving credit card fraud or identity theft, it is crucial that you retain an experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible who can begin preparing your defense and give you the best chance of avoiding or minimizing the serious consequences of a conviction.
Mark Diaz: Aggressive and Affordable Houston/Galveston Criminal Defense Lawyer
I’m Texas criminal defense lawyer Mark Diaz, and if you are looking for a criminal defense lawyer in the Houston/Galveston area who combines the professional and personal qualities you need to give you the best chance of reclaiming your life, please give me a call. Criminal defense is all I do, and in over 15 years of practice, I have handled every type of criminal case out there. Whether you are facing a minor misdemeanor or a first degree felony, I have the skills necessary to protect your rights. You don’t have to face the courts alone. Depending on the type of charges filed against you, I can petition the court to suppress evidence, exclude testimony, and even dismiss the charges altogether.
Whereas some other attorneys may try to avoid court at any cost, I truly enjoy litigation and the opportunity to vindicate my clients. If your case requires a full trial, I will not hesitate to see it through. Call me for a free consultation today at (409) 515-6170.
This website has been prepared by Mark A. Diaz for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.