Connecticut Credit Card Theft Lawyer
Americans using their credit cards and debit cards more than ever. Trillions of dollars in goods and services are purchased each year both online and offline. And with the increasing use of credit cards as a preferred method of payment both on and off the Internet, comes the risk of Credit Card Theft arrests in Stamford, Darien, New Canaan and Greenwich Connecticut. Busting Credit Card Theft rings has become a top priority for property crime detectives in Stamford, Greenwich and Darien Connecticut. As a result, Connecticut police and prosecutors are strictly enforcing criminal laws that prohibit the unauthorized possession and use of another person’s credit card. One of the primary reasons behind law enforcement’s tough stance is that Credit Card Theft can often cause irreparable and detrimental damage to a credit score and can cause a victim serious long-term financial hardship. So if you have been arrested for CGS 53a-128c Credit Card Theft in Stamford, Greenwich, Darien, Westport, Wilton, or New Canaan, you should call at top Greenwich or Stamford theft lawyer to learn about the nature of the charges being brought against you and the various defenses available to you.
Misdemeanor Credit Card Theft
To understand the precise definition of Connecticut Credit Card theft, any of the best Stamford criminal lawyers and attorneys would inevitably point you to the Credit Card Theft Statute under CGS 53a-128c. Under that law, you can be found guilty of Credit Card Theft if: (1) you take the credit card of another person without the issuer’s or cardholder’s consent, (2) you come into possession of another person’s credit card with knowledge that it has been taken, and with the intent to use it, sell it, or transfer it to a person other than the issuer or cardholder, or (3) you find or discover a lost or misplaced credit card and then retain it with the intent to use it, sell it or transfer it to a person other than the issuer or named cardholder. Note that you don’t even have to use the credit card to get arrested for Credit Card Theft—all the police need to demonstrate is that you had the intent to use it, sell it or transfer it. Credit Card Theft under these scenarios is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail, fines of up to $2,000, and probation.
Felony Credit Card Theft
You can also be arrested in Stamford, Greenwich, Darien or anywhere else in Connecticut for felony Credit Card Theft under CGS 53a-128c if during a twelve-month period, you receive credit cards issued in the names of two or more people, which you have reason to know were taken or retained under circumstances which constitute misdemeanor Credit Card Theft. In other words, if you commit misdemeanor Credit Card Theft more than once within a 12-month period, and with more than one credit cardholder’s name, then you will be arrested in Stamford, Greenwich, Darien or anywhere in Connecticut for 53a-128e felony Credit Card Theft. Under this subdivision, the crime is considered a Class D felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison, a maximum $5,000 fine, and probation.
Restitution Orders in Connection with Connecticut
If you plead guilty or are convicted of Connecticut 53a-128c Credit Card Theft, then you may be ordered to pay financial, out-of-pocket restitution for any financial harm you have caused the victim cardholder or the victim credit card issuing company who has covered the losses and expenses caused by your misconduct. One reason to hire a top Stamford or Greenwich criminal attorney is to give she or he the chance to negotiate or argue for the proper amount of restitution in your case. The amount of restitution owed can be aggressively argued and litigated in court so it is important that you make sure your top Stamford criminal attorney fights for a fair and low restitution order for you. Restitution amounts become critical because if you do not pay the full amount of restitution during your probation period, then you can be charged with the separate crime of Violation of Probation.
Is it Credit Card Theft if the Cardholder Authorizes You to Purchase an Item?
Not usually. Many times a cardholder will hand off their credit card to you to run an errand or purchase a specific item. This is considered consent and authorization, so long as you can prove this consent. To be arrested for 53a-128c Credit Card Theft in Darien, Ridgefield, Westport, or Wilton, you must receive the credit card without consent of the owner. Therefore, if a person gives you their credit card to purchase an item, they are consenting to your use of the card. Under typical credit card merchant and vendor agreements, vendors and stores are directed by credit card companies to only accept cards from the actual cardholder, as this prevents fraud and unnecessary chargeback disputes. However, in the bustle of today’s commerce, this rule is rarely enforced, especially for small purchases and online purchases. Way back, stores would typically ask to see the cardholder’s identification before scanning or swiping a card. In practice, however, most stores do not follow this policy—however, the store’s failure to check your identification is NOT a defense to criminal liability for Credit Card Theft. So if you find yourself purchasing an item for a card owner with their credit card, it is a smart and safe practice to receive a signed written consent from the card owner to use their card.
What is the Difference between Credit Card Theft and Illegal Use of Credit Card?
Top Stamford and Darien criminal attorneys often find themselves explaining to clients the difference between Credit Card Theft under CGS 53a-128c and the separate and distinct Connecticut crime of Illegal Use of Credit Card under CGS 53a-128d. The distinction between these financial crimes can be confusing to a non-lawyer as both of the crimes attempt to protect an individual’s credit card. Here’s the difference: 53a-128c Credit Card Theft prohibits the act of actually obtaining a credit card from a credit card owner without consent. On the other hand, Illegal Use of Credit Card under 53a-128d punishes the actual use of the credit card to obtain money, goods, or services. Credit Card Theft laws target individuals who have possession of the card and are looking to use the card or are seeking to transfer it to another individual. Many times, especially in Connecticut credit theft and identity theft scams, Darien and Greenwich property crime detectives will charge these crimes together, along with Connecticut Identity Theft charges, if appropriate. Piling charges on like this can sometimes be unconstitutional so it is important to consult a top Darien Connecticut Credit Card Theft lawyer or Stamford Connecticut Identity Theft lawyer to determine whether filing a Motion to Dismiss some or all of charges would be appropriate.
Is Using a Lost Gift Card Considered Credit Card Theft?
Technically, no, but it is always a good idea to turn the lost gift card into the police or the owner of the property where you found the gift card so the original owner can recover and claim it. So long as the gift card does not have the recipient’s name or any identifying information on it, then it is not technically a “Credit Card” under the Connecticut statutory definition. Connecticut law treats gift cards as a cash alternative. Because most of these cards do not have a specific name on them and are not obtaining goods, services or other value on credit, they are not viewed as credit cards.
What Do I Do if I Find a Lost Credit Card?
Call the credit cardholder or the issuing credit card company (such as American Express, Visa, MasterCard) immediately to report it lost. Simply picking up the credit card cannot get you arrested in Stamford, Darien, Wilton or Westport for 53a-128c Credit Card Theft. To be charged with this crime, you must also be accused of keeping the card with the intent to use it, sell it or transfer it to another person. So if you find a credit card that does not belong to you, it would be wise to do one of 3 things: (1) turn it into the owner of the property where you found it (such as a storeowner) so it could be returned to the rightful owner who may come looking for it, (2) immediately call the credit card company at the contact number of the back of the card, or (3) contact the police or the credit cardholder.
Fighting 53a-128c Credit Card Theft Arrests in Connecticut
Developing a defense to your Connecticut Credit Card Theft charges usually involves a comprehensive review of police reports, victim statements, financial records, as well as audio and video surveillance recordings. When you are arrested for 53a-128c Credit Card Theft in Stamford, Norwalk, Danbury or Bridgeport court, all of these items are provided to the State prosecutors who are required to share these documents and materials with your Connecticut criminal lawyer. It is therefore critical that your top Connecticut criminal lawyer reviews all the evidence carefully, presents you with the strengths and weakness of your case, and discusses the options you have in fighting your charges. Many times the crucial question in a Credit card Theft case is consent and whether you were authorized to possess and use the credit card. This issue comes up often in contested divorce cases where one spouse runs rogue and charges up a storm with the other spouse’s credit card. Accordingly, a key decision is fighting any Stamford, Darien, or Greenwich Credit Card Theft case is whether you should take your case to trial, consider a plea bargain, or apply for a first time offenders diversionary program such at the Pre-Trial Accelerated Rehabilitation Program (the “AR Program”). The AR Program is not an admission of guilt and, if granted, paves the way for your Credit Card Theft arrest to be dismissed, erased and expunged, removing the arrest completely off your record and wiping it clear from all employment background checks. No matter which way you choose to defend yourself against 53a-128c Credit Card Theft charges, be sure to clearly understand each of your options and take your time in making a decision.
Are You a Victim of Credit Card Theft?
Victims of Credit Card Theft under CGS 53a-128c have many rights in the Connecticut criminal court system. Victims of Connecticut crimes have the right to be heard in court and have the right to avail themselves of the services of a Victim Advocate from Connecticut Office of Victim Services, at no charge to them. Additionally, a Credit Card Theft victim may even hire their own Connecticut victim lawyer to represent them in nearly every stage of the criminal prosecution of the arrestee. These Connecticut Victim attorneys may speak up in court and demand full restitution for your out-of-pocket financial losses caused by the actions of the accused, including your costs of cleaning up your credit history. In most Connecticut criminal courts, victim lawyers may also participate in pre-trial negotiations with the judge, prosecutor and defense attorney and ask for tough conditions of any case disposition or plea bargain. The Victim Representation Lawyers at Mark Sherman Law can assist you through the court process and work within the confines of the process to attempt to get you the most justice and restitution possible under the circumstances of your particular case.
Contact An Experienced Credit Card Theft Attorney at Mark Sherman Law Today
As you can see, misdemeanor or felony Connecticut Credit Card Theft arrests under 53a-128c can carry serious consequences. Thus, if you have been arrested in Darien, Westport, Greenwich, Stamford or New Canaan for 53a-128c Credit Card Theft, then contact one of the experienced criminal lawyers at Mark Sherman Law today. Our priority is getting you the best result possible. We will sit with you to craft the most cost-effective defense with you. Our “two-attorney” analysis of your file will help ensure that your case will get a thorough and comprehensive review of all police documents and arrest reports. So get in front of your Connecticut Credit Card Theft arrest by contacting a Greenwich or Stamford criminal attorney today. The attorneys at Mark Sherman Law are available 24/7 to take your call. We can be reached anytime at (203) 358-4700.