Recent advancements in technology has led to a sharp rise in online crimes, such as the counterfeiting credit cards which is described under California Penal Code 484i.
California state and even federal prosecutors will aggressively investigate any type of credit card counterfeiting case as it has become a billion-dollar industry.
These type of online white collar crimes are not always prosecuted as tracking the suspect consumes a great deal of time and law enforcement has limited resources, which they will typically devote to violent crimes.
If you have been accused of committing some type of credit card fraud, you will normally be charged with:
If you were involved in an illegal large-scale credit card fraud operation, such as counterfeiting credit cards, you could face indicted in federal court under 18 U.S. Code § 1029.
In California, credit card fraud is criminalized under various other statutes, including California Penal Code 484e, 484f, 484g, 484h, and 484j.
What separates these statutes is:
- the manner in which the credit card was used,
- how much was stolen,
- whether you replicated the card, or;
- stole identity to complete the transaction.
This article will focus on California Penal Code 484i, which describes unlawful counterfeiting of credit cards.
If you are facing allegations of being involved in counterfeiting credit cards, you should consult with a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at Eisner Gorin LLP to review the details and legal options.
To give readers useful information on PC 484i, our California criminal defense attorneys are providing an overview below.
Definition of Counterfeiting Credit Cards – PC 484i
California Penal Code 484i defines the unlawful act of counterfeiting credit cards as follows:
- Anyone who has possession of an incomplete access card with intent to complete it without consent of the issuer.
Anyone who alters, varies, changes, or modifies access card account information with intent to defraud, including the encoded magnetic stripe, or who authorizes modification of access card account information by another that causes transactions to be charged to someone other than the cardholder.
Anyone who designs, makes, possesses, or traffics in card making equipment with the intent the cards be used to make counterfeit access cards.
In other words, this definition above means you are in violation of California Penal Code 484i if you:
- Possess an incomplete credit card with intent to complete it without the consent of card issuer
- Alter or modify a credit card in any manner, such as changing the magnetic stripe that contains identifying information
- Make, possess or traffic in equipment that is used to create credit cards or incomplete cards. If you are selling the equipment, you have to have knowledge the buyer intends to create counterfeit credit cards
Related California Offenses for PC 484i
Closely related California offenses to counterfeiting credit cards under Penal Code 484i include:
- Penal Code 484e – Stealing Credit Cards
- Penal Code 484f – Forging Credit Card Information
- Penal Code 484g - Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card
- Penal Code 484h – Credit Card Fraud by Retailer
It should be noted you could also be charged with an additional crime under California Penal Code 368 - elder abuse - if you were a caretaker of someone over the age of 65 and stole, sold or fraudulently used their credit or debit card.
If you worked with other people and made an agreement to commit credit card fraud, then you have committed conspiracy in violation California Penal Code 182, and could face additional charges along with credit card fraud crimes.
If you enter a store and knowingly use a stolen credit card or debit card, then you could face an additional charge of burglary under California Penal Code 459, along with relevant Penal Code 484 crimes.
Penalties for Counterfeiting Credit Cards – PC 484i
If you are convicted of counterfeiting credit cards in violation of California Penal Code 4841, the penalties will depend on the specific statute that was violated. If convicted of a misdemeanor offense, the penalties include:
- Up to six months in county jail
- A fine up to $1,000
If convicted of forgery under Penal Code 470, it's a “wobbler” offense, meaning the case could be punished as either a misdemeanor or felony crime. If convicted of a misdemeanor forgery, the penalties are the same as above. If convicted of felony forgery, the penalties include:
- Up to three years in county jail
- A fine up to $10,000
It should be noted that you might be able to expunge your conviction under Penal Code 484i as long as you completed all your requirements and didn't serve time in a California state prison.
Fighting Counterfeiting Credit Card Charges in Los Angeles
If you have been accused of Penal Code 484i, counterfeiting credit cards, our criminal defense lawyers can use a range of legal arguments to fight the charges.
Our goal is to get your charges reduced or dismissed. Common defenses for PC 484i charges include:
No fraudulent Intent
If you go back to the legal definition above, it contains specific language that you had to have acted with an “intent to defraud” in order to be guilty of Penal Code 484i. We might be able to make a reasonable argument you didn't have a criminal intent to commit fraud.
Most fraud related cases require a criminal intent, thus our goal is to present a challenge to this critical element to raise reasonable doubt.
In some cases, we may be able to make an argument that you were falsely accused and wrongfully arrested. Perhaps we can show evidence someone made false allegations against you due to revenge, anger or jealously.
Again, the goal is to create reasonable doubt to get your charges reduced or even dismissed.
If you have been accused of counterfeiting credit cards in violation of California Penal Code 484i. you should consult with our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm to review the details of your case and legal options.
At Eisner Gorin LLP, we have a track record of success in all types of credit card fraud related cases. We need to first review all the circumstances of your case.
Call our law firm for a consultation at 877-781-1570.