These days, just about everyone has a debit card from a banking institution
and most people have both credit and debit cards. While these little pieces
of plastic are easy and convenient to use, they come with strict rules.
If your name is not on a credit or debit card, you’re not supposed
to use it without the cardholder’s permission. You’re not
supposed to borrow a friend’s card and go withdraw cash from an
ATM without their knowledge, and if you find a card on the ground in a
store, or if you find one outside somewhere, you can’t run to the
nearest gas station and fill up your tank.
All of these actions are criminalized under
Section 32.31 of the Texas Penal Code, as well as other variations of the crime,
credit or debit card abuse. Under Sec. 32.31, a person commits this offense if with the intent to
obtain a benefit fraudulently (money, gasoline, merchandise, a service,
- Present or use a credit or debit card that is not theirs, and without the
consent of the cardholder,
- Use a card, whether it’s expired or not, without permission from
- Use a card that’s been cancelled or revoked,
- Use a fake credit or debit card, or use a false number from a fake card,
- Receive a benefit, such as money, merchandise, food, or services from a
card that he or she knows was obtained unlawfully,
- Steal a credit or debit card with the intent to use or sell it,
- Receive a stolen card, knowing that it’s stolen, with the intent
to use or sell it,
- Purchase a credit or debit card from someone he knows is not the card issuer,
- Use the credit or debit for the defendant’s personal benefit, knowing
that the cardholder cannot afford to repay it, and
- Not being the card’s owner, possess it without their consent, and
intend to use it. Many couples do this, not realizing it’s wrong.
Credit or debit card abuse is a state jail felony, unless the victim was an elderly
person, in which case it would be a third degree felony offense.
Penalties for Credit or Debit Card Abuse
Under Texas law, a
state jail felony is punishable by 6 months to 2 years behind bars, and by a fine not to
exceed $10,000, or both.
If the offense was committed against an elderly person, it would be a
third degree felony, punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison, and by a fine not to exceed $10,000.
As you can see, using someone else’s card without their knowledge
and permission is a serious offense. Even if the actor uses another’s
card with innocent intentions, they’re still breaking the law.
If the actor and cardholder know each other, the cardholder may forgive
the actor, or they may not. If the cardholder is upset about the incident,
he or she may want to “press charges” to teach the actor a
lesson, especially if the actor is a
former romantic partner.
Regardless of your intentions at the time of the alleged offense, you could
be facing state jail felony or third degree felony charges, incarceration,
and thousands in fines.
Contact our office today to meet with a Plano
criminal defense attorney!