There are many different types of white-collar crimes in New Jersey that involve fraud. However, cases concerning credit card fraud are different from other fraud cases. There are numerous ways in which a person can commit credit card fraud in New Jersey, and defendants who have been charged with a credit card fraud crime may face additional theft charges.
Moreover, many people may not recognize that you can be charged with certain credit card crimes even if you do not use a fraudulent credit card to obtain goods or services.
Elements of a General Fraud Claim Under New Jersey Law
To better understand why credit card fraud cases in New Jersey are distinct from other fraud cases in the state, it is important to learn more about fraud in general and how it is determined in court. Generally speaking, a successful fraud claim under New Jersey law requires proof of the following five elements:
- The defendant made a false representation of fact(s).
- The defendant knew or believed the fact(s) to be false.
- The defendant intended to deceive.
- The victim believed and justifiably relied upon the defendant’s false representation, and either took an action or decided not to take an action in response to it.
- The victim suffered a legal injury as a result of the defendant’s misrepresentation.
A prosecutor may bring charges against a defendant for a fraud-related offense in a criminal case, or a plaintiff may file a civil suit against a defendant for a fraud-related crime. But how do elements of a credit card fraud crime differ?
What Is Considered Credit Card Fraud in New Jersey?
- False statements made to get a credit card
- Credit card theft
- Intent of cardholder to defraud
- Intent to defraud by a person authorized to furnish money, goods, or services
- Incomplete credit cards with the intent to complete them without consent
- Receiving any items of value knowing or believing that such items were obtained fraudulently
- Fraudulent use of credit cards
It is important to distinguish among the variety of credit card fraud offenses under the law:
The offenses that fall under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-6(b)-(c) do not require that the defendant actually use the credit card to obtain goods or services in order to be guilty of the offense. To be clear, you can be charged with, convicted of, and punished for these crimes if you engage in certain behavior with the intent to defraud, even if you do not actually succeed in defrauding anyone.
For offenses that fall under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-6(d)-(h), the defendant must do more than take an action with the intent to defraud. Indeed, the defendant must succeed in defrauding.
Generally speaking, these offenses concern how the credit card is obtained and/or how the credit card is used.
What Are the Most Common Credit Card Fraud Charges in NJ?
Credit card theft is among the most common credit card-related charges in our state. This charge, which falls under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-6(c), can be committed in a number of different ways, including:
- Taking or obtaining a credit card without the cardholder’s consent, or receiving a credit card from another party with the knowledge that it was taken or obtained without the consent of the cardholder.
- Receiving a credit card that you know to have been lost or mislaid, with the intent to use it, sell it, or transfer it to another party.
- Selling or buying a credit card from a person other than the issuer.
There are additional credit card theft crimes that fall under the statute, and you should speak to a Monmouth County fraud defense attorney about your specific charges.
In addition to credit card theft, another commonly charged offense is the fraudulent use of credit cards, which falls under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-6(h). A person is guilty of this offense when he or she knowingly uses a fraudulently obtained credit card or a counterfeit credit card (or other fraudulent credit card) to obtain money, goods, or services. A person can also be guilty of these offenses if he or she, with unlawful or fraudulent intent, “furnishes, acquires, or uses” a real or a fake credit card.
Consequences of a Credit Card Fraud Charge or Conviction in New Jersey
When it comes to credit card fraud punishment in New Jersey, the consequences can be severe. The consequences of a credit card fraud charge or conviction in New Jersey depend substantially upon the type of credit card fraud charge, whether the charge is a first or a subsequent offense, and whether the crime is charged alongside other offenses.
A credit card theft crime in New Jersey typically is charged as either a third-degree offense or a fourth-degree offense, which carry the following penalties:
- Third-degree offense: fines of up to $15,000 and up to five years in prison
- Fourth-degree offense: fines of up to $10,000 and up to 18 months in jail
Defense Against a Credit Card Fraud Charge
If you are facing credit card fraud charges, our criminal defense lawyer in Monmouth County can discuss possible defense options in your case, which may include:
- Lack of intent (you did not intend to defraud)
- Mistaken illegal possession (you actually had permission to have the credit card, for instance)
- Mistaken identity (you are not the person who committed the crime)
Depending upon the specific facts of your case, there may be other available defense options.
Contact a New Jersey Credit Card Fraud Lawyer Today
If you are convicted of a credit card crime in New Jersey, you can face monetary fines and incarceration. In addition, you may have difficulty securing loans, obtaining credit, being eligible for new jobs, and locating reasonable housing in the future. To be sure, a credit card fraud conviction can impact you long after your sentence has been completed. That’s why it is essential to start working on your defense as soon as possible.
If you are facing credit card fraud charges, contact The Law Office of Jason A. Volet today to learn how we can help.
Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a criminal trial attorney, Jason A. Volet focuses his practice exclusively on criminal and municipal defense in New Jersey and New York. He earned his B.A. in political science from Rutgers College in 1995 and his J.D. from the Hofstra University School of Law in 1998. Mr. Volet began his career in the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, where he gained extensive experience prosecuting both juvenile and adult offenders. Now, as a criminal defense attorney, he uses that experience to fight for the rights of individuals who have been charged with a crime.