What is Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card in Arizona?
A.R.S. § 13-2105 criminalizes the use of a forged credit card or using another person’s credit card without their consent. The fraudulent use of a credit card is classified as a class 1 misdemeanor, a class 6 felony, or a class 5 felony depending on how much money the defendant was attempting to defraud by using the credit card.
A.R.S. § 13-2105 Defined
Under ARS 13-2105, A person commits fraudulent use of a credit card if the person:
- With intent to defraud, uses, for the purposes of obtaining or attempting to obtain money, goods, services or any other thing of value, a credit card or credit card number obtained or retained in violation of this chapter or a credit card or credit card number which the person knows is forged, expired, cancelled or revoked; or
- Obtains or attempts to obtain money, goods, services or any other thing of value by representing, without the consent of the cardholder, that the person is the holder to a specified card or by representing that the person is the holder of a credit card and the card has not in fact been issued.
The class of crime for fraudulent use of a credit card changes depending on how much money was involved in the fraudulent credit card use within a 6 month period:
- Class 1 misdemeanor: Less than $250
- Class 6 felony: Between $250 and $1000
- Class 5 felony: $1000 +
Note: The dollar value of the fraudulent credit card transactions does not have to take place all at once. The value is calculated over a 6-month period of using the credit card. So even a number of very small transactions can quickly add up to a class 5 felony over the course of half a year.
Important Definitions for Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card
Arizona’s fraudulent use of a credit card law contains certain words and phrases that have specific legal definitions that are defined by statute in ARS 13-2001. For the purposes of understanding ARS 13-2105, the following definitions are important to know:
- Any instrument or device, whether known as a credit card, charge card, credit plate, courtesy card or identification card or by any other name, that is issued with or without fee by an issuer for the use of the cardholder in obtaining money, goods, services or anything else of value, either on credit or in possession or in consideration of an undertaking or guaranty by the issuer of the payment of a check drawn by the cardholder, on a promise to pay in part or in full therefor at a future time, whether or not all or any part of the indebtedness that is represented by the promise to make deferred payment is secured or unsecured.
- A debit card, electronic benefit transfer card or other access instrument or device, other than a check that is signed by the holder or other authorized signatory on the deposit account, that draws funds from a deposit account in order to obtain money, goods, services or anything else of value.
- A stored value card, smart card or other instrument or device that enables a person to obtain goods, services or anything else of value through the use of value stored on the card, instrument or device.
- The number that is assigned to the card, instrument or device even if the physical card, instrument or device is not used or presented.
Example: A person copies the numbers on a gift card for a store and used that to buy items from the store without the gift-card holder’s permission. The gift card used here counts as a “credit card” for the purposes of this law.
- A person named on the face of a credit card to whom or for whose benefit the credit card is issued by an issuer.
- A person in possession of a credit card with the consent of the person to whom the credit card was issued.
“Cancelled or revoked credit card”
- A credit card that is no longer valid because permission to use it has been suspended, revoked or terminated by the issuer of the credit card by written notice sent by certified or registered mail addressed to the person to whom the credit card was issued at the person’s last known address. Proof that the written notice has been deposited as certified or registered matter in the United States mail addressed to the person to whom the credit card was issued at the person’s last known address gives rise to an inference that the written notice has been given to the cardholder.
“Expired credit card”
- A credit card that is no longer valid because the term shown on the credit card has elapsed.
Penalties for Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card
The penalties for a conviction under ARS 13-2105 depend on whether it is charged as a class 1 misdemeanor, class 6 felony, or class 5 felony. First-time offenders are probation eligible if they are convicted; however, a conviction for a person with multiple felonies requires prison time be served.
Penalties for a class 1 misdemeanor
- Up to 6 months’ jail
- Up to $2500 fines
Penalties for a class 6 felony
- With no prior felonies: probation or .33 to 2 years in prison
- With one prior felony: .75 to 2.75 years in prison
- With two prior felonies: 2.25 to 5.75 years in prison
Penalties for a class 5 felony
- With no prior felonies: probation or .5 to 2.5 years in prison
- With one prior felony: 1 to 3.75 years in prison
- With two prior felonies: 3 to 7.5 years in prison
Defenses to Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card
- No “Intent to Defraud”: One of the main defenses to the fraudulent use of a credit card is that the defendant had no “intent to defraud.” To convict under this law, the prosecutor must show not only that the person was not authorized to use the credit card (or it was a fake card) but that the defendant knew of this problem and tried to cheat the merchant anyway. However, there are many scenarios where a person might not technically have permission to use the credit card, but when they try to use it their intentions are not malicious. If the prosecutor cannot prove the fraudulent intent, then the defendant should not be convicted.
Example: A father gives his credit card number to his daughter so that she can buy clothes and supplies for school. The father and daughter have a falling out, and he removes her as an authorized user on his credit card. The daughter does not know that she has been removed as an authorized user and attempts to make a purchase with the card. This is not the fraudulent use of a credit card because the daughter was not aware that her father had removed her from the account.
How Salwin Law Group Can Help You
If you have been charged with fraudulent use of a credit card, an experienced defense attorney can help defend you. Salwin Law Group offers free consultation and can discuss your case with you today. Together we can help you get your life back.