Reduce Credit Card Fraud
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What Are the Common Legal Defenses and Penalties for Credit Card Fraud

In the State of California, stealing someone’s credit or debit card or card information is considered a wobbler crime. This means that under Penal Code 484e, it can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the details of each particular case. 

If you get accused of violating Penal Code 484e, there are several ways to challenge the accusation by raising a legal defense. Hiring an experienced attorney is the best way to ensure that your charge gets reduced or ultimately dismissed. 

What are the Most Common Legal Defense Strategies? 

In California, there are three commonly used defenses to address accusations that you violated Penal Code 484e, and they include:

  • Having no credit card
  • Having no intention to defraud
  • Necessity

Let’s take a closer look into what they all entail. 

No Intent to Defraud 

For this defense, you have to remember that a person can be accused of violating the law only if they stole a credit or debit card or card information with the intention to defraud. This means that a defense can always state and prove that the accused had no intent to defraud and did not know that they were using stolen information, if, in fact, this is the case.  

No Credit Card 

Penal Code 484e can be applied only in cases involving credit and debit cards. It does not include things like property or cash. Therefore, the defense can argue that even though the defendant might have taken or stolen something, it was not a debit or credit card or card information. 


With this defense, the defendant attempts to avoid guilt by proving that he had a good reason for committing the crime. People refer to this type of defense as “guilty with an explanation.” When it comes to stealing a credit or debit card, the accused can attempt to show that they committed the crime because they had no other option (state of emergency, desperation, etc.).

What are the Penalties for Violating Penal Code 484e? 

As already mentioned, stealing a credit or debit card or card information is a wobbler offense per California law. This means that violating Penal Code 484e can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor.

If it gets charged as a misdemeanor, the penalties are less harsh. However, still include: 

A maximum fine of $1,000. 

  • Up to one year of imprisonment in the county jail. 

However, if it ends up getting charged as a felony, the penalties are more severe: 

  • A fine of up to $10,000.
  • Up to three years of imprisonment in a county jail. 

Regardless of the classification of the offense, it is important that you seek the assistance of competent legal counsel to help you best understand your legal defense while identifying an outcome that best minimizes your risk. We here at the H Law group patiently await your call.

H Law Group Online

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