Westchester County Credit Card Theft Lawyer
Allegations involving the theft of a credit card can confuse and frighten many defendants. You may not understand why you are being charged with a crime after a simple misunderstanding. You may also be unclear about why you are being charged with a crime if you did not steal the card themselves.
The simple fact is that New York Penal Law criminalizes both the actual stealing of a credit card and the possession of a credit card that you know is stolen. Both offenses are serious matters for which a conviction is a felony that can result in serious prison time.
No matter the exact circumstances that led to the arrest, a Westchester County credit card theft lawyer may be able to help. A skilled defense attorney work with defendants to identify realistic goals, to speak with prosecutors, and to fight to protect their rights in New York’s criminal courts.
Theft of a Credit Card is a Major Offense
All alleged thefts under New York Penal Law are known as larceny, including credit card theft. Larceny is defined as any taking of property from its owner with the intent to deprive the owner of its use.
According to New York Penal Law §155.30, the stealing of a credit, debit, or benefit card is classified as grand larceny in the fourth degree. This means that a conviction is a Class E felony carrying a maximum prison sentence of four years under the harshest circumstances. A Westchester County credit card theft attorney could help individuals defend themselves against such allegations by arguing that the theft was actually a loan by the card’s owner, or that the holder of the card was an authorized user.
Westchester County Laws Concerning the Possession of a Stolen Card
Not only is it illegal to actually steal a credit, debit, or benefit card, it is also illegal to possess these items if they are stolen. New York Penal Law §165.45 defines criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree as the possession of property that the holder knows is stolen and intends to gain some sort of benefit from. It is also illegal to knowingly have this item and not return it to the rightful owner when asked. When this item is a credit, debit, or benefit card, the law treats this crime as a Class E felony.
In light of this definition, a credit card theft lawyer in Westchester County may be able to argue in court that the defendant did not know that the card was stolen. They may also argue that the true owner was able to recover the card when they confronted the defendant, so no crime of possession occurred.
What is the Difference Between Credit Card Theft and Credit Card Fraud?
While these terms are often used interchangeably, there is an important difference. Credit card theft refers exclusively to the unlawful taking of a credit card belonging to another person. On the other hand, credit card fraud involves the misappropriation of a stolen card. An example could include knowingly using the card of another person to make an online purchase. Although these are two separate offenses, both carry severe consequences upon conviction.
Could a Conviction for Credit Card Theft Affect Immigration Status?
There are multiple criminal offenses that could impact a defendant’s immigration status. Theft is one of those charges. A conviction for credit card theft could result in the deportation and removal of an immigrant, even in cases where they were lawfully residing in the United States. A conviction could also bar a person from re-entering the U.S. in the future.
What are Some Viable Defenses in Credit Card Theft Cases?
Like with any criminal charge, a seasoned attorney could use various defenses to contest allegations of credit card theft in Westchester County. The most effective strategy will depend on the specific facts of the case.
One of the strongest defenses available in these cases relates to a defendant’s constitutional rights. All defendants are protected from unlawful searches and seizures by the police. Should law enforcement unlawfully search a defendant’s home or car, any evidence they find could be ruled inadmissible by the judge. If the fact that the defendant was in possession of the stolen credit card is excluded from trial, it could be difficult for the state to meet its burden of proof.
Other potential defenses could include:
- Lack of evidence
- Statute of limitations violations
- Speedy trial violations
- Mistaken identity
Not all these defenses will be available in every case. An experienced local attorney could review a credit card theft case to determine the ideal defense strategy.
How a Westchester County Credit Card Theft Attorney Could Help
Any allegation of theft or possession of stolen property is a serious matter. However, whenever that property is a credit, debit, or benefit card, a conviction on theft or possession charges automatically becomes a felony. This could expose you to a multiple-year prison sentence and being labelled as a felon for the rest of their lives, so it is essential when facing these charges to defend yourself strongly in court.
A Westchester County credit card theft lawyer may be able to provide this defense. They could work diligently to investigate the allegations against you, cross-examine any state witnesses, and file evidentiary motions to contest the prosecutor’s case. Call today to see how they might be able to help you.