Florida Credit Card Fraud Laws
Overview of Florida Credit Card Fraud Laws
Credit card crimes include the buying or selling of stolen or forged credit cards, the unauthorized use of an expired credit card or another person's credit card, and the counterfeiting or altering of credit cards. Florida state laws define "credit card" to include ATM cards, banking cards, check cards, credit cards, debit cards, and other types of cards related to financial transactions.
The State Credit Card Crime Act ("the Act") sets criminal penalties for offenses related to credit card fraud. The Act penalizes many credit card offenses as misdemeanors. However, Florida state laws also allow for the prosecution of credit card fraud outside of the Act through other criminal statutes, which might impose more severe penalties. For example, a state prosecutor may choose whether to charge a credit card crime through the Act or pursue another charge such as theft. If the state convicts a defendant based on an offense outside of the Act, the defendant will receive a penalty or sentence set by the other statute.
Florida state laws bar the unauthorized use of a credit card issued to another person. The prosecutor must show that the defendant intentionally used a forged or stolen credit card to obtain money or to pay for goods and services. For example, the defendant might have unlawfully used another person's ATM card to make a cash withdrawal or made a purchase using another person's credit card. The defendant must have known that the card was forged, stolen, or unlawfully obtained, and represented himself as the card holder. A prosecutor can charge a defendant with a first degree misdemeanor for two offenses committed in a six-month period or for an offense during which the value obtained was less than $100. The Act increases the charge to a third degree felony if the defendant engaged in three or more acts of fraudulent use within a six-month period or if the defendant obtained goods, services, or money valued over $100.
The Act also criminalizes the buying and selling of a credit card by anyone other than the issuer of the card. In addition, Florida state laws prohibit the theft or unauthorized retention of a credit card issued to another person. Forgery and counterfeiting activities for the production of credit cards also violate state law.
Defenses to Credit Card Fraud Charges
- No intent to commit fraud or otherwise engage in unlawful activities
- Authorization given by the credit card holder
Penalties and Sentences
If the state of Florida prosecutes the defendant using the State Credit Card Crime Act, a conviction will result in one of the penalties or sentences set by the Act. The severity of the punishment for credit card fraud depends on whether offense qualifies as a first degree misdemeanor or a third degree felony. If the state charges the defendant with a first degree misdemeanor, a conviction may lead to a sentence of imprisonment for a term that does not exceed one year, a fine in an amount up to $1,000, or both. If the credit card fraud qualifies as a third degree felony, the sentence of imprisonment may last for a term of up to five years, while the potential fine increases to a maximum of $5,000. If the prosecutor has charged the defendant with a felony, the state may also consider the defendant's criminal record and previous felony convictions when determining the penalty and sentence.
Florida Credit Card Fraud Statute
State Credit Card Crime Act (Florida Statutes Sections 817.57-817.685)
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.