Have you Been Charged with Financial Transaction Card Theft in Georgia?
While paying with cash was the norm for decades, consumers are now using credit and debit cards for the majority of transactions. Because of the prevalence in credit card payments, credit card and debit card theft is on the rise. If you or a loved one has been charged with financial transaction card theft, you need assistance from one of our Georgia Fraud Attorneys. The Office of Lawson and Berry has extensive experience in Georgia Fraud laws and are ready to assist with your case.
O.C.G.A. §16-9-31 Outlines the Crime of Financial Transaction Card Theft
A person commits financial transaction card theft when a person:
- Takes a credit or debit card from the cardholder without their consent
- Knowingly possesses a stolen credit or debit card without the owner's consent with the intent to use it or sell it
- Knowingly possesses a credit or debit card that has been lost or delivered to the wrong person with the intent to use it or sell it
- Buys a lost, stolen, or forged credit or debit card from another person
- Possesses two or more lost, stolen, or forged cards within one year.
However, if a person takes, obtains, or withholds a financial transaction card without consent of the cardholder, then it is considered theft by taking.
Georgia Case Law
There are multiple ways that a person can be guilty of financial transaction card theft. One situation is in the case of Epps v. State. Epps approached cashiers on two different dates at the same store and gave them a credit card that was falsified. It had account numbers from another person's account superimposed over the credit card's original numbers. The cashiers were forced to enter in the card numbers manually because the card would not scan. The Court found the defendant guilty of financial transaction card fraud and financial transaction card theft because he stole someone's credit card numbers and used them to buy merchandise. 262 Ga. App. 113, (2003).
Another case where a defendant was convicted of financial transaction card theft is in Maddox v. State. The accused was hired to paint the victim's home. The victim fell asleep, and when she woke up, she noticed that her credit cards were missing from her handbag. The police recovered the credit cards from the accused along with other items. Therefore, he was convicted of financial transaction card theft because he did not have permission to take the credit cards. 268 Ga. App. 610, (2004).
What Has to Be Proven to Be Convicted
To be convicted of financial transaction card theft, the State must show that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This involves demonstrating that the defendant had the intent to use, sell, or forge credit card information. Our Georgia Fraud Lawyers can help create gaps in the arguments of the prosecution and help you obtain a favorable outcome.
Penalty for Financial Transaction Card Theft in Georgia
A person convicted of financial transaction card theft in Georgia will be charged with a felony. The consequences include a fine up to $5,000.00 and a prison term between one and five years, or both.
Felony charges extend beyond just a fine and prison. They stay on your record and can cause you to be denied employment, credit, or housing. That is why it is vital to retain a Georgia Fraud Lawyer. Felony convictions can have detrimental consequences on your everyday life so hire one of our Fraud Attorneys today.
Consent. If the defendant had permission to use the cards from the owner, that would be a sufficient defense.
Lack of Intent to Use, Sell or Transfer the Card. If the accused found a card and intended to give it back to the owner and had no intent to use, sell, or transfer it, then they would not be guilty of a crime.
This is not an all-encompassing list of defenses that could be used for your case. Our Georgia Fraud Attorneys will tailor a defense specifically for your case.
What Does Not Constitute a Defense
The card was unused. A showing that the defendant used the card is not necessary to show a wrongful withholding. Therefore, the defendant could still be convicted without showing they used the card. Thomas v. State, 176 Ga. App. 771, (1985).
Lawson and Berry and their team of Georgia Fraud Lawyers can help if you or a loved one has been charged with financial transaction card theft. Remember, a charge is not the same as a conviction, so it is vital to your case to get a lawyer that is knowledgeable in the field of fraud. Contact us to speak with a experienced Georgia Fraud Attorney today.