What Are the Credit Card Fraud Laws in California?

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All credit card fraud charges are serious legal matters that can have severe implications for you and your family.

If you are convicted, you face potential incarceration and a felony conviction on your record for the rest of your life.

If you have credit card fraud charges in the San Diego County area, the California fraud lawyers at The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, are ready to fight for you.

By providing superior service and support, attorney Kerry Armstrong and his reputable team of criminal defense lawyers can provide you with the advocacy you deserve.

We offer legal representation designed to minimize or eliminate the impact a criminal charge could have on your life. Contact us online today to get started. 

Credit Card Fraud Laws

According to §§484d-484j of the California Penal Code, credit card fraud is either grand theft or petty left. Grand theft occurs when someone:

  • Sells or transfers a credit card without the owner’s consent and with the intent to defraud;
  • Acquires four or more credit cards in the name of other people within 12 months under fraudulent circumstances;
  • Retains credit card information for a credit card validly issued to another person with the intent to defraud;
  • Accumulates over $950 worth of goods, services, or anything of value within six months with an altered, forged, expired, or invalid credit card; or
  • Transfers $950 worth of goods, services, or anything of value within six months, knowing the buyer used a fraudulent credit card.

The California Penal Code classifies other crimes as petty theft. This includes retaining or acquiring another person’s credit card or using a fraudulent credit card to acquire goods or services worth less than $950.

Making or passing (sometimes referred to as “uttering”) a fraudulent credit card is considered forgery under this law.

Additionally, changing or modifying credit card account information, including information in the magnetic stripe, is a forgery.

Credit Card Fraud Punishments

The possible sentence you face depends on the nature of your charges under California credit card fraud laws.

The penalty for petty theft is a sentence in the county jail for no longer than six months and a fine not to exceed $1,000. The judge could order you to pay restitution as well. 

However, in some cases, grand theft is a wobbler offense. Wobbler offenses are offenses that could be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony.

You face up to one year in the county jail if the judge treats your grand theft conviction as a misdemeanor; however, you could go to prison for for up to three years if the judge finds that your conviction should be classified as a felony.

Beat Your Credit Card Fraud Charges with the Help of an Award-Winning Defense Team 

If the police open an investigation into your activities or arrest you for credit card fraud, call The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, immediately at 619-234-2100 or contact us online.

Our award-winning defense attorneys are ready to fight for you and protect your rights.

Our fraud attorneys could possibly even intervene before charges are filed against you. We have extensive knowledge and experience that we’ve gained by trying well over 100 cases to jury trial.

This makes us uniquely poised to get the best possible outcome for your case.

Author Photo

Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.

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