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Fairfax/Manassas Criminal & Personal Injury Blog

Crimes involving money are considered to be serious. In fact, depending on the type of crime, those accused of such a crime could face harsh penalties that include fines and even jail time. Because most individuals in Virginia have at least one credit card, cardholders are often concerned that their identity could be stolen and much debt could be accrued because of credit card theft. Being accused of this financial crime could mean serious consequences and a tarnished reputation; thus, it is important to understand the available defense against such an allegation.

Based on recent statistics by the U.S. Department of Justice, roughly 11.57 million people fall victim to identity fraud. In just 2013 alone, the total losses suffered because of identity theft amounted to around $21 billion. Stolen credit cards are frequently used in identity theft matters, and this easy access to money has led to an increasing consumer loss. Thus, U.S. legislation has focused on imposing strict penalties against offenders of credit card fraud. These penalties increase in severity for repeat offenders.

Depending on where the crime occurred and how much money was stolen through an alleged credit card theft, a defendant could face a wide range of penalties. This could range from just 15 days in jail to the maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Fines associated with this crime could range from a few hundred dollars to over $10,000. For example, if the accused had the criminal intent to defraud and knowingly used a credit care to make a purchase of at least $1,000 over the course of a year, uses 15 or more cards, sells credit card information or illegally provides information about the cardholder's financial transactions, the accused could face a penalty of a hefty fine and 10 years in prison.

Because the penalties associated with credit card crimes can be severe, it is important for those accused of these crimes to understand their rights and options. A criminal defense strategy could help a defendant suppress evidence against them or get them a fair plea deal. Ultimately, taking the step to defend yourself against criminal allegations could help you reduce the charges against you or have them dismissed.

Source:, "Credit Card Fraud Can Lead to These Penalties and Punishments," Omkar Phatak, March 30, 2016

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