California Credit Card Fraud Laws & Charges + Statute Of Limitation

Views: 3784

In California, credit card fraud is defined as using someone else’s credit card knowing that you do not have their consent. Or, you use your own credit card knowing that it has expired or was revoked. Or you use the card knowing that the available balance is less than the cost of what you are buying. Credit card fraud also is using a stolen or fake credit card to receive money or services.

Laws and Penalties

Penalties for credit card fraud in California will vary depending upon the exact circumstances of your offense. Generally, credit card fraud is punishable in several ways:

  • Forgery –  As a felony, 16 months in prison or two to three years in a county jail. Maximum fine is $10,000. As a misdemeanor, you can get up to one year in county jail and a fine up to $1000.

  • Grand theft – Punished the same as a felony for forgery.

  • Petty theft – Misdemeanor, punished by up to six months in county jail and a fine of $1000.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for credit card fraud in California is seven years. However, you should remember that there are some situations where that time period is either tolled or suspended. For example, if you are out of state or are in prison, it is possible for you to be charged for fraud for a much longer time.

The purpose of the California statute of limitations law is so the accused cannot be prosecuted for an alleged crime many years after evidence and witnesses that may exonerate the accused are no longer available.


The major defense against a credit card fraud charge is centered on that of intent. If you can show that you did not have the intent to defraud anyone, then you may be found not guilty of credit card fraud. This typically can be proven by showing the court that you did not realize the card was fraudulent, stolen, or belonged to someone else. You also may be able to argue that the person to whom the card belongs had knowledge that you were using it for purchases.

Credit Card Fraud Cases

  • Ten Hit With Credit Card Fraud Charges – A federal grand jury returned a 33-count federal indictment that charged 10 people with credit card fraud and I theft in California and several other states. The indictment states that the conspirators stole more than 3800 credit card numbers, and also the names and IDs that are associated with those credit card numbers.

  • California Woman Gets Probation for Credit Card Fraud – A woman in Ventura, CA was sentenced to several years of probation this week after using stolen credit card information from several residents of Montgomery County in California. She was sentenced to five years of probation after she pleaded guilty to access device fraud, criminal conspiracy. She also had to pay restitution of $1700.

  • Two CA Men Arrested for Credit Card Fraud and Drug Possession – Two men in Cedar City CA were arrested this week on a traffic stop, and were found to have engaged in credit card fraud and drug possession. They were pulled over while heading south on I-15. The police officer who made the stop said that he could smell pot in the car and then conducted a search of the car.

Geoffrey Nathan, Esq.

About Geoffrey Nathan, Esq.

Geoffrey G Nathan is a top federal crimes lawyer and Chief Editor of He is a licensed attorney in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts since 1988, admitted to practice in both Federal and State courts. If you have questions about your federal case he can help by calling 877.472.5775.