Under the Texas Penal Code, fraud is defined as the intentional deception or misrepresentation of facts with the intent to deprive another person of property or to cause financial loss or injury to another person. Fraud can take many different forms, including:
- Theft by False Pretenses: This occurs when someone obtains property or services by intentionally deceiving another person with false statements or misrepresentations. These types of offenses can be found under the Theft provisions of the Texas Penal Code, Section 31.03.
- Forgery: This occurs when someone alters, makes, or signs a document with the intent to defraud or harm another person. A common criminal charge involving “forgery is forgery of a financial instrument.“
- Credit Card Abuse: This occurs when someone uses a credit card without the cardholder’s consent, with the intent to obtain property, services, or anything of value. More information about this common criminal offense is contained below.
- Identity Theft: This occurs when someone obtains, possesses, transfers, or uses another person’s identifying information without their consent, with the intent to harm or defraud.
- Securities Fraud: This occurs when someone makes false statements or omissions of material fact in connection with the sale or purchase of securities.
In Texas, fraud can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of the offense and the amount of money or property involved. The penalties for fraud can include fines, restitution, and imprisonment.
Credit Card Abuse
Under the Texas Penal Code §32.31, credit card abuse is a criminal offense that occurs when a person uses a credit or debit card without the cardholder’s consent, with the intent to obtain a benefit fraudulently, or knowing that the card is expired or has been revoked.
Credit card abuse can also occur when a person receives a benefit that they know was obtained through the unauthorized use of a credit or debit card. The term “benefit” is defined broadly and can include goods, services, money, or anything else of value.
To prove credit card abuse under Texas law, the prosecution must establish that the defendant:
- Used a credit or debit card without the cardholder’s consent or authorization;
- Had the intent to obtain a benefit fraudulently; or
- Knew that the card was expired or had been revoked.
The severity of the offense and the potential penalties depend on various factors, such as the value of the benefit obtained through the unauthorized use of the card, the defendant’s criminal history, and the number of victims involved.
Generally, credit card abuse in Texas is considered a state jail felony, punishable by up to two years in a state jail facility and a fine of up to $10,000. However, the offense can be enhanced to a third-degree felony if the offense involves an elderly or disabled victim or if the defendant has a prior conviction for credit card abuse.